While this figure could give Jaguars fans initial sticker shock and elicit a déjà vu harangue against Tom Coughlin (who was the last person responsible for putting the Jacksonville Jaguars in salary cap hell), it’s really not as dire of a situation when you look into the details.
With that being said, the Jaguars are going to have to be aggressive in trimming some of the roster fat after this football season, and for the most part, the team is fortunate to have John Idzik structure a lot of deals in their favor with escape hatches that will yield little dead money in the event of a release or trade.
Speaking of dead money, the dead money in 2020 for the Jaguars as of right now on Spotrac is $5,620,470 for the retired Telvin Smith, who still has a $1,620,470 signing bonus and $4,000,000 restructure bonus on the books. When a player retires, the remaining signing bonus that has not been included in a player’s salary “accelerates” and is included in that year’s team salary. My understanding is that since Telvin Smith was placed on the “Retired” list after June 1, the Jaguars will take an immediate salary cap hit of the remaining signing and restructure bonus totaling $2,810,235 in 2019 and $5,620,470 in 2020. If anything changes on this or if I hear differently, I will update with a future post.
-$19,501,346. And that’s without Yannick Ngakoue or Myles Jack on the 2020 roster.
So what will the Jaguars need to do to become financially healthy moving forward?
Cap Savings: $20,000,000
Dead Money: $2,500,000
When the Jaguars restructured Marcell Dareus into a two-year deal for a meager $5.5 million cap hit in 2019, Dareus’ side essentially built in a “poison pill” for the 2020 season that will leave the Jaguars with little to no option but to release him. They’ll be responsible for $2.5 million dead cap stemming from his $5 million signing bonus (prorated over the 2019 and 2020 season), but saving $20 million in cap space is inevitable at this point. Dareus is poised to have his best season yet in teal and black, so hopefully they can figure out a deal to keep him in Jacksonville after the 2020 opt out. By the time he concludes the 2019 season, Dareus will have made over $87 million in cash in his nine-year NFL career.
New Cap Number: $498,654
Voila. Just like that, they’re in the positive.
CB A.J. Bouye
Cap Savings: $11,500,000
Dead Money: $4,000,000
Of course the Jaguars would prefer to keep Bouye to pair alongside Jalen Ramsey, who will be in his $13.7 million fifth-year option season with the team, but the only way that happens in my opinion is if Bouye re-structures his deal. And to be honest, I just don’t see Bouye willing to do that, even though it would give him a cash influx and more job security with another multiple-year prorated signing bonus. It’s more realistic to me at this point that Bouye, who will be turning 29 in 2020, will want to double dip in the free agency waters and look for a team where he can be the unquestioned CB1 and not be the Robin to Jalen’s Batman in Duval. An early peak at the 2020 cornerback class has been encouraging.
New Cap Number: $11,998,654
With just two moves, the team has created some more breathing room, but still not in the vicinity of where they will need to be if they want to give Yannick (or Myles Jack) an extension.
Cap Savings: $8,000,000
Dead Money: $0
This is a big year for Brandon Linder to prove he can be durable enough to play all sixteen games; something he has yet to do in his career. It would be a shame to move on from Linder, who is a very reliable and athletic offensive lineman when he’s actually in the game, but the prospect of $0 dead money may be too enticing for the Jaguars to pass up. Perhaps the two sides can come to an agreement for a re-worked deal after releasing him to keep him in Duval, but a 28-year old center of his caliber on the open market is not an ideal situation for the Jaguars to get into bidding over, despite Linder’s injury history. The Jaguars already seem to be working on a 2020 back up plan with A.J. Cann taking snaps at center with Will Richardson at right guard.
New Cap Number: $19,998,654
Still not quite there if the focus is on keeping Yannick Ngakoue and Myles Jack in town, but we’re getting closer. Now the franchise tag is possibly an option for Ngakoue should it come down to it.
CB D.J. Hayden
Cap Savings: $6,000,000
Dead Cap: $1,666,668
Hayden actually ended up being a decent signing in his first year manning the nickel cornerback position for the departed Aaron Colvin, but 2019 will be a big year to prove he can stay healthy and contribute for all 16 games. Outside of playing like a top-five nickel in the NFL this year, there’s little chance that Hayden sees his 2020 contract in Jacksonville
New Cap Number: $25,998,654
Easily in Yannick franchise tag range now, but let’s see what else we can do to try and keep Myles Jack.
LB Jake Ryan
Cap Savings: $5,500,000
Dead Cap: $250,000
I mean, isn’t this pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point for the guy who still hasn’t been able to practice?
New Cap Number: $31,498,654
This is a comfortable amount for the Jaguars at this point. Of course, it’s still not quite enough if their plan is to tag Yannick Ngakoue and try to re-sign Jack, but it’s getting there. Due to positional value, it might be smarter for the Jaguars to try and work out something long-term with Yannick (say around $20-22 million APY) and use the LB franchise tag on Myles, which should be somewhere around $14.7 million in 2020.
WR Marqise Lee
Cap Savings: $5,250,000
Dead Cap: $3,500,000
Marqise Lee’s long-term Jaguars prospects looked bleak the moment Damontae Kazee launched himself into his knee in week three of the 2018 preseason. Lee has been working very hard to recover from the gruesome injury and likely starts the season on PUP, but his future is probably not in Jacksonville. Which begs the question – what if the front office opted to find a way to tag Allen Robinson instead of re-signing Marqise Lee after 2017? Would Robinson maybe have stayed for this season with a new quarterback like Nick Foles? Maybe not, but just something to digest.
New Cap Number: $36,748,654
Hopefully the trio of Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and D.J. Chark can shine with Nick Foles this year and they can pick up an alpha receiver from what looks to be a stacked 2020 draft for the position.
DT Abry Jones
Cap Savings: $4,000,000
Dead Cap: $0
With zero dead cap on the ledger and the draft selection of Dontavius Russell, it’s more than likely that the longest tenured Jaguar on the roster will see the sun set on his time in Jacksonville. With Dareus and Abry gone, I expect the Jaguars to move Calais Campbell inside to three-technique full time on a re-structured deal and rotate with Taven Bryan while Russell, Eli Ankou or a rookie fill in that nose tackle position for 2020.
New Cap Number: $40,748,654
This would be enough to keep Yannick Ngakoue and Myles Jack in the fold, and despite racking up almost $12 million in dead cap, at least they are somewhat malleable in what they want to do. The Jaguars need to hope that they hit big time in the 2020 draft to help replenish WR, CB, DT and LB (if they let Jack walk).
But wait, there’s more. While it would be amazing for guys like Marcell Dareus, A.J. Bouye, Brandon Linder or Andrew Norwell to re-structure their deals, I don’t see that being likely.
Cap Savings: $7,500,000
The one guy I can see going the re-structure route is DL Calais Campbell, who has already brought up the idea of potentially re-working his deal to allow more flexibility to bring in better roster talent. Campbell has made a good chunk of money in his career (will be a cool $103 million in cash earnings after 2019 – not bad work if you can get it) and by the time 2020 rolls around, the 34-year old will likely be more interested in increasing his bid for a gold jacket and entering the Pride of the Jaguars than looking for one last pay day in another city. As I’ve mentioned before, because Campbell’s game is predicated on strength, technique, and intelligence instead of twitch and athleticism, he can continue to play at a high level until he’s 36 years old as long as his body doesn’t give up on him.
A fair re-structure to me would be a three-year deal for $30,000,000 with a $15,000,000 signing bonus. This would bring his 2020 cap number down from $17,500,000 to $10,000,000, allowing some of that money to go into Yannick Ngakoue’s pocket so “Sacksonville” can ring chase.
New Cap Number: $48,248,654
Annual Salary Cap Increase
All the numbers calculated above are off of the 2019 team salary cap number of $188.2 million. Since 2014, the cap has gone up about 40% and has increased by around $10 million each year. Of course there is a big topic coming up with the CBA set to expire that can affect this, but if the rise continues to be linear, that’s plenty of money to keep Ngakoue, Myles Jack, and even entertain a Jalen Ramsey extension heading into 2020.
New Cap Number: ~$58,248,654
So fear not, Jaguars fans. The sticker shock is jarring, but the roster is malleable. While the $12 million in dead cap with the blueprint above isn’t ideal, it’s still far less than the $15.5 million dead cap that they have in 2019 just from the Blake Bor-
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