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Which Jaguars players could be cap casualties in 2020?

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The Jaguars could undergo serious changes heading into the 2020 season, who might fall victim to change?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into 2020, the Jaguars may find themselves in a precarious situation due to the salary cap. According to OverTheCap.com, the team will have an estimated -$747,783 in salary cap space based on a $200M total cap space for the NFL entering the 2020 league year. The Jaguars will be forced to make player personnel decisions based on cap hits moving forward.

For the Jaguars, they have routinely structured free agent contracts to allow the team to have an “out” after a certain period of time — typically two to three years —, which allows the team to move forward without incurring any serious amounts of debt, able to sign replacements during the following free agency period.

However, the Jaguars opted to sign quarterbacks Nick Foles and Blake Bortles over the past two seasons to deals which have impacted the franchise in a dramatic fashion, forcing them to abandon deals they may not necessarily want to.

Potential cap casualties for 2020 (Cap figure in 2020):

Marcell Dareus ($22.5M):

Dead money if cut: $2.5M

Savings if cut: $20M

When the Jaguars traded a 2018 fifth-round pick in 2017 for the defensive tackle, Dareus was one of the Jaguars most dominant run defenders, playing a pivotal role in their playoff run two seasons ago.

While his value on the team is still high, the Jaguars have a major decision to make following the conclusion of this season, and would be able to save $20M against their cap by declining his option no later than February 26, 2020. This would effectively make Dareus a free agent, with a possibility of returning to the team at a cheaper rate.

Likelihood: Near certainty

Calais Campbell ($17.5M)

Dead money if cut: $2.5M

Savings if cut: $15M

Campbell has been the heart and soul of the Jaguars defense for the past three seasons. Signed to a four-year, $60M contract with the Jaguars during free agency in 2017, Campbell has accounted for 31.5 sacks, 43 tackles for loss, and 72 quarterback hits in only 45 games.

While he is still a dependable player, his recent decline has been evident this season and he hasn’t been able to take on blockers as consistently as he has in the past. The Jaguars can save $15M against their cap for the 2020 season if they release the 33-year old shortly before the start of the new league year in March.

There is a possibility of the team re-signing Campbell at a lower salary, similar to Dareus, however it remains to be seen if the star defensive lineman will play next season entering his age-34 year.

Likelihood: Medium

A.J. Bouye ($15.5M)

Dead money if cut: $4M

Savings if cut: $11.5M

Part of the same free agency class that brought Campbell to Jacksonville, Bouye has been a dependable cornerback for the team for the past few seasons, although — just like Campbell —, his decline has been evident. During the 2017 season Bouye accounted for six interceptions and graded out as one of the best corners in the league according to Pro Football Focus. Since then, Bouye has hauled in only two interceptions over the past two seasons.

After jettisoning All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars called on Bouye to become their number one cornerback, typically covering the opposing team’s best receiver — Bouye follow Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins allowing only eight receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown in their most recent contest.

While Bouye has not been a bad defensive back for the Jaguars, he has not played as well as he did in 2017 and the team can save $11.5M if they were to move on. A new regime — if there is one —, will have to quickly evaluate the position and reload it if they decide to move on.

Likelihood: Medium

Andrew Norwell ($14.5M)

Dead money if cut: $5.5M

Savings if cut: $9M

Brought in to complete the offensive line, Norwell has only brought more questions after signing a five-year $66.5M with $30M guaranteed, the Jaguars left guard has not lived up to expectations after being named an All Pro in his final season with the Carolina Panthers.

While Norwell has not played as poorly as he has been portrayed this season, he has not done much to separate himself from the rest of the Jaguars offensive line which has been mediocre at best this season surrendering 39 sacks (ranked 19th) while averaging 109.4 rushing yards-per-game (15th).

The Jaguars may move on from the sixth-year veteran in an effort to save money and reshape the interior of their offensive line, saving $9M.

Likelihood: Low-medium

Brandon Linder ($8M)

Dead money if cut: $0

Savings if cut: $8M

Linder is an intriguing option of the Jaguars want to completely reshape the interior of their offensive line, however he is the least likely player from this list to be released. Owed no more guaranteed money, the Jaguars can save $8M without any penalty going into the 2020 season.

The six-year veteran center has been one of the most dependable players on the team’s roster, however he has not been able to stay healthy and has been a weekly addition to the team’s injury report this season. Accounting for the second-most penalties (Jawaan Taylor 14) on the team with 10, Linder has made plenty of mistakes this year.

Linder originally signed a five-year ~$51M contract extension with $24M in guarantees prior to the 2017 season.

Likelihood: Extremely low

Marqise Lee ($8.75M)

Dead money if cut: $3.5M

Savings if cut: $5.25M

After signing a four-year $34M contract with $16.5M fully guaranteed following the 2017 season — the most damning contract on the roster —, Lee has landed on the team’s reserve/injured list for two consecutive seasons, accounting for just three receptions for 18 yards since his signing (missed all of 2018 with a knee injury).

Disappointing for both parties, the Jaguars will have no choice but to move on from the former Biletnikoff award winner and save $5.25M in cap space for 2020.

Likelihood: Near certainty

Jake Ryan ($6.25M)

Dead money if cut: $250,000

Savings if cut: $6M

After signing a two-year $8M contract in free agency this spring, Ryan has played in only two games — one defensive snap —, this season before being placed on the team’s reserve/injured list last week with a hamstring injury. The linebacker was originally placed on the team’s non-football injured list prior to the season due to a setback on his surgically repaired knee in July.

The Jaguars will want to move on from Ryan and save $6M against their cap by releasing Ryan prior to the start of the new league year.

Likelihood: Near certainty

Geoff Swaim ($4.3M)

Dead money if cut: $250,000

Savings if cut: $4.05M

The Jaguars have been decimated by injuries this season, particularly at the tight end position. Swaim was unable to provide any production at the position before or after being placed on the team’s reserve/injured list in week eight, accounting for only 13 receptions for 65 yards after signing a two-year $6.6M contract.

His time in Jacksonville will likely amount to only those six games as the team isn’t likely to want to carry that deal moving forward and instead save $4.05M.

Likelihood: Near certainty