Today during the first media day of the 2020 NFL Combine, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell addressed the team’s ongoing roster configuration and specifically addressed Bouye when asked about the veteran cornerback’s contract situation.
With two years remaining on his contract, Bouye is expected to make a base salary of $13M while accounting for $15,437,500 against the team’s 2020 salary cap — a lofty number for a team that may not have much wiggle room depending on other roster moves throughout the offseason. While there has been speculation regarding the impending release or retention of the veteran cornerback, Caldwell didn’t close the door on Bouye returning at all.
“Those are some things that we’re discussing with coach Wash — and A.J. [Bouye] had a nice year last year,” Caldwell said when asked about Bouye. “We’ll explore all options with him but he still has a lot of football left in him. Again, another player that we really like here as a person and as a guy and obviously you guys know the salary restrictions and all that stuff. Realistically it’s not as bad when you put him in line with the rest of the corners in the league.”
While Caldwell’s evaluation of Bouye’s play can be debated, the situation regarding his contract is valid. The Jaguars originally signed Bouye to a five-year $67.5M contract with $26M guaranteed. Bouye’s contract is currently ranked 8th in the NFL at $13.5M on average per season, directly behind Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant and directly ahead of Patriots cornerback Stephen Gilmore.
While Gilmore has been a better player than Bouye, he is currently underpaid for the value he provides as one of the top defensive players in the NFL. In 2017, Bouye produced a Pro Bowl season accounting for six interceptions on the team and was named to the AP’s second-team All Pro roster shortly thereafter.
Since then, Bouye has not produced at the level he is capable of, dealing with injuries and a lack of talent surrounding him causing his play to deteriorate. However, at times the veteran cornerback showcases the skills the team saw in him when he signed in 2017 and showed on the field during the same season. In week nine against the Houston Texans, the seventh-year cornerback held All Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to only eight catches for 48 years and a touchdown.
The Jaguars will have a decision to make regarding to the former Pro Bowl cornerback, however it does not seem to be a foregone conclusion anymore that he will not be retained after hearing Caldwell speak at length about his situation on Tuesday.