With free agency only a little more than a month away, the Jaguars will have a couple of major decisions to make. Look no further than the team’s defensive line which is headlined by defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue.
Campbell, 33, is set to account for $15M against the team’s salary cap for the 2020 season, however his level of play hasn’t declined too much since signing with the team, and certainly not below his price point at this given time. Campbell is a leader on the field and has demonstrated his enormous efforts off the field as shown by the Walter Payton Man of the Year trophy currently sitting somewhere at his house right now.
While much has been made regarding the defensive end’s potential to accept a pay cut, Campbell should not be forced to take anything of the sort. His production speaks for itself through his three years as — arguably — the team’s most complete defensive lineman.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan recently sat down with Jaguars.com reporter Ashlyn Sullivan to speak about a multitude of topics including both Campbell and Ngakoue. When asked about the prospects of bringing Campbell back the team’s owner was highly complimentary, however wouldn’t say with certainty they’d be back.
“I think he’s a fabulous guy okay,” Khan told Sullivan of Campbell. “And I think his contributions everybody understands, knows, [and] respects. Both of these players, Yannick [Ngakoue] and Calais [Campbell], I had chats with them after this season. So I mean certainly I’d love for them to be back and I’m very hopeful they’re gonna be back.”
Currently, the Jaguars have not reached a contract agreement with Ngakoue. Following a 8.5-sack season and his best season as a run-defender to date, the fourth-year defensive end is looking for a raise.
Starting on February 25th, the Jaguars will have until on March 10th at 4:00PM ET (start of the new league year) to apply the franchise or transition tag to Ngakoue if they choose to do so and do not reach a long-term agreement with the defensive end before that date. At that point, the Jaguars could tender the non-exclusive franchise tag to Ngakoue which would equal ~$19.78M*.
The non-exclusive franchise tag would allow Ngakoue and his representatives to negotiate with any team in the NFL for an offer sheet. At that point, the Jaguars will have the ability to either accept two first-round picks as compensation or match the offer sheet itself and re-sign Ngakoue.
The Jaguars have, however, remained steady in their intentions to retain the young pass-rusher, including Khan.
”We very much want him to be [back],” Khan said when asked about the future of Ngakoue. “I’ve talked to him — but absolutely it’s our desire that he be back.”
If the Jaguars were to apply the franchise tag to Ngakoue they would have until July 15th to reach a long-term deal with the young defensive end, otherwise he will play — if signed — on a one-year deal. During and after the 2020 NFL Combine it will become increasingly clear whether or not the team wishes to tag Ngakoue or if a long-term deal will be reached in time for the new league year to prevent the star defensive end from hitting unrestricted free agency.
The final decision the Jaguars will need to make prior to the start of the new league year is in regards to defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. The deadline for the team to pick up a his option which, if picked up, will guarantee his 2020 base salary of $9.5M and would give a $10M roster bonus to Dareus on the fifth day of the 2020 league year due on March 22nd for skill and injury only.
*The non-exclusive franchise tag value in this article uses the maximum projected 2020 salary cap value of $201.2M.