In a quiet week in the NFL, the biggest story is that the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to make huge personnel moves this offseason. The goal of the Jaguars seems to be to unload their larger contracts and build towards the future. It is unfortunate that two years removed from an AFC Championship appearance the Jaguars have to break it down and have not been anywhere near as dominant as they were then. Jacksonville wanting to change up the roster has come to a shock to some. But the writing seemed to be on the wall for them, after Telvin Smith’s sudden retirement and the Jalen Ramsey saga.
In 2019-20 The Jacksonville Jaguars went 6-10 which was last in the AFC South and earned them the ninth overall pick. Along with the ninth, the Jaguars acquired the 20th overall pick from the Los Angeles Rams in the Jalen Ramsey deal. After announcing that they want to move on from some of their heavy contract veterans on their roster the Jaguars traded cornerback AJ Bouye to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick. That cleared up a little over $13 million from their salary cap. The Jaguars have $33.8 million in available salary-cap which ranks 21st in the league. They also have over 50 percent of their salary cap invest in seven players on their active roster. On top of that, the Jaguars are expected to franchise tag star pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. That will likely cost around $19.3 million against the cap.
The Jaguars must move some of their large salaries to make room for players that can carry this team out of the mediocrity they have been in for the past two seasons.
Nick Foles QB
The most amount of money guaranteed to a player on the Jaguars’ roster is last year’s big splash offseason signing, Nick Foles. Jacksonville signed Foles just two years removed from a Super Bowl win & Super Bowl MVP with the Philadelphia Eagles to a four-year $88 million contract, thus making him the future of the franchise at quarterback. That narrative didn’t even make it to the first half of their Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Foles broke his collarbone and Minshew Mania began. Gardner Minshew threw for 2,285 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions during his absence. Foles did not look good during his return or throughout the entire season, only throwing for 736 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions last season. It seems unfair and too soon to write him off, but after naming Gardner Minshew the starting quarterback a week ago, Foles’ days in Duval might be numbered. Conflicting reports this week have come out saying that the Jaguars are interested and now not interested in trading Foles. Even if Foles and Minshew battle it out in camp and Foles loses, there is no reason to have a $22 million dollar back up quarterback going into Week 1. Trading Foles would only give the Jaguars $2.6 Million in salary cap relief this season, but would give them $30 million 2021. Any team that trades for Foles to be their starter will have to have a surplus of cap space and will likely view Foles as their last resort. Or we could possibly see a similar situation to what the Texans did with Brock Osweiler before the 2017-18 season, as he was traded mostly to clear up cap space.
Chances he gets traded: 40%
Chances he gets cut: 5%
Chances he gets retained: 55%
Best possible move: The Jaguars trade Nick Foles, first-round pick (#20) & third-round pick (73) to the Miami Dolphins for a first-round pick (#26) and fifth-round pick (#179)
Marqise Lee WR
It is very rare that a talented former high draft pick fades out of a line up as quick ad Marqise Lee. Lee was very productive in limited time early in his career. Finally in a contract year, Lee became the full-time no. 2 receiver for the Jaguars. He recorded 702 yards on 56 catches and three touchdowns. Lee received a four-year $38 million extension and then missed the entire 2018 season after knee surgery. The Jaguars’ wide receiver room was very cluttered in 2019 and Lee had to compete with names like DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley and Keelan Cole. He only started one of the six games he played this year before getting put on IR after a knee injury. Lee only caught three passes for 18 yards in that time. Though Jacksonville lacks a number one receiver, they have the depth to move on from a receiver like Lee who would likely get buried on the depth chart in 2020. Lee likely will not have many suitors unless a team misses out on a second or third receiver in free agency, but it is likely that Lee would get cut before free agency even starts. Regardless if Lee is cut or traded the Jaguars will get $5.3 million in salary cap by getting rid of Lee and his contract.
Chances he gets traded: 7%
Chances he gets cut: 83%
Chances he gets retained: 10%
Best possible move: The Jaguars cut Marqise Lee and he signs to a receiver needy team for depth
Brandon Linder C
The former third-round pick has been one of the best centers in the NFL for a couple of years now. Though Linder has not made a Pro Bowl, he has quietly been one of the most consistent players at his position, one that is is hard to find good players at. In 2017, Brandon Linder signed a five-year $51.7 million extension. This was the biggest contract given to a center at the time (now second to Travis Fredrick). As valuable as Linder is, the Jaguars can’t afford to keep his huge salary on the payroll. The good news for Jacksonville is that they will have many suitors for Linders’ services and should be able to move him with ease to a team who is invested in improving their offensive line. Also trading Linder will clear his $8 million salary for 2020.
Chances he gets traded: 85%
Chances he gets cut: 3%
Chances he is retained: 12%
Best possible move: The Jaguars trade Brandon Linder to the New York Jets for a third-round pick (#79)
Andrew Norwell OG
The Jaguars signed Andrew Norwell to be one of the last pieces added to a dominant team that was a game away from a Super Bowl appearance. Norwell came into the league an undrafted free agent and played his way to the top of the league at his position. During his time in Carolina, Norwell was one of the best guards in football. He also got paid as one of the league best signing a five-year $66.5 million deal. Today Norwell is the third highest-paid guard in the league, and highest-paid left guard. Norwell, like Linder, is a luxury for the Jaguars that they cannot afford to keep. Trading or releasing Norwell will cost $9 million against the cap but will free up $5 million next season. By doing this now, in 2021 Norwells $14.5 Million will be off the cap. Offensive line-needy teams will be interested in trading for Norwell’s huge contract. It wouldn’t be surprising if a team who knows the potential and how to get the most out of Norwell trades for him this offseason
Chances he gets traded: 62%
Chances he gets cut: 10%
Chances he gets retained: 28%
Best possible move: The Jaguars trade Andrew Norwell to the Washington Redskins for a fourth-round pick (108)
Calais Campbell DE
At age 33, Calais Campbell is still one of the most dominant defensive ends in the NFL. He was one of the key additions to the team that turned Jacksonville into #Sacksonville. Campbell rejuvenated his career moving from a 3-4 scheme in Arizona to a 4-3 which had him rushing the passer off the edge, which is a lot easier than trying to rush from the interior. Campbell signed a four-year, $60 million contract in 2017. He had 14.5 sacks in his first year with the team and followed it up with 10.5 the following year. This past season Campbell did only have 6.5 sacks, with three coming in one game against the Titans. It is not crazy to assume that Campbell is slowing down due to age, but he is still valuable to another team. As much as the city of Jacksonville loves Campbell, it would be in the best interest of the franchise from a business standpoint to move on from him. Jacksonville would only have to take on $2.5 million of Campbell’s salary if he was off their roster, freeing up $15 million. Jacksonville doesn’t have to get rid of Campbell, but getting $15 million off the cap would be nice. Campbell would be a nice addition for a team looking to add a second-tier pass rusher off the edge.
Chances he gets traded: 40%
Chances he gets cut: 24%
Chances he gets retained: 36%
Best possible move: The Jacksonville Jaguars trade Calais Campbell to the Buffalo Bills for a Third round (#86) and 2021 4th round pick
Yannick Ngakoue DE
Earlier this week it was reported that the Jacksonville Jaguars plan on franchise tagging Yannick Ngakoue. If he remains on the roster he will cost around $19.3 million against the cap in 2020. Ngakoue has racked up 37.5 over his four years in the league, never getting less than eight sacks in a season. He has been one of the best young pass rushers in the league and is line for a payday. Under normal circumstances the Jaguars should do everything in their power to re-sign the 24-year-old. But Ngakoue has made it very clear he doesn’t want to return to Jacksonville. Jacksonville covered themselves by franchise tagging Ngakoue, so if Ngakoue plays 2020 with the Jaguars and then leaves at least they will get a compensatory third-round pick in return. However, the smartest move is to try to convince Ngakoue to re-sign long term and or trade him before the draft if they don’t change his mind. There will be a couple big-money suitors looking to trade for Ngakoue and re-sign him long term. The compensation for Ngakoue will likely be similar to what the San Fransisco 49ers had to give up for Dee Ford or what the Kansas City Chiefs gave up to acquire Frank Clark. The compensation might even be more, considering how young Ngakoue is and how dominant he has been throughout his career. By trading Ngakoue it would essentially be the equivalent to losing him in free agency and he would not count at all to the Jaguars 2020 cap.
Chances he gets traded: 74%
Chances he gets cut: 1%
Chances he gets retained: 25%
Best possible move: The Jaguars trade Yannick Ngaokue to the Seattle Seahawks for a first-round pick (#27), 2021 second-round pick and 2021 fourth-round pick
Overall, by doing all of these transactions the Jaguars save $31.8 in salary cap in 2020 (avoid paying $50.9 Million). They also add an extra $61.6 million to their cap space in 2021. They also added four extra draft picks in 2020 and three in 2021. This gives them three first round picks , an extra third, fourth and fifth round pick in 2020. In 2021, they would have two second-round picks to go along with their two first-rounders that they have already, and two extra fourth-round picks. This gives Jacksonville enough picks to rebuild the foundation of their franchise or enough capital to get a game-changer that could improve the franchise by themselves.