Following the announcement of the Jaguars playing regular season home games in London instead of Jacksonville, the question of luring potential free agents comes to mind. While the team’s ability to generate more local revenue will assist the team in potentially giving larger signing bonuses or more guaranteed money to players, how much of a two-week stay in London will impact the team’s ability to court free agents on the open market this March?
Yesterday, New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate responded to the announcement stating that the game is amazing for Jacksonville fans in the UK — which is a sort of oxymoron, but “sucks for season ticket holders, players, and players families.”
That sucks for season ticket holders, players, and players families. AMAZING for Jacksonville fans in the UK. #nothanks— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) February 4, 2020
Something to keep in mind, the Jaguars will be playing in London in back-to-back weeks, this means the team’s players will be away from their family for two weeks during a grueling season. While the Jaguars currently reside in a state income-tax free state in Florida, according to ESPN’s Mike DiRocco Jaguars players have complained in the past about reductions to their paycheck due to additional taxes.
However, it should be noted that the taxes affecting really only the highest paid players on the team from their venture to London affects them less than playing in a state such as California, where the income taxes in that region are much more brutal. The Jaguars players — and all players in non-state income tax cities continue to be the least taxed players in the NFL.
Jaguars players complain about the additional taxes taken out of their checks after each time they've played in London. Unless that was enacted recently.— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) February 4, 2020
Players will have to give up certain liberties in terms of their routine. For example, Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell has stated in the past that he uses weekly acupuncture treatments, dry needling sessions, and chiropractor visits to maintain his body during a grueling 16-game season. While there will certainly be services provided to him in London by the team or otherwise, being away for this long could have an adverse affect on the team.
Former Jaguars long snapper Matt Overton voiced his concerns over the decision to play two games in London back-to-back on Twitter yesterday following the announcement by the team.
Jags playing back to back games in London will be extremely exhausting for the players. That trip is brutal on everyone involved.— Matt Overton (@MattOverton_LS) February 4, 2020
Having one game in London is one thing — a team will typically get a bye week following their London or international series matchup. However, the Jaguars playing two games in London will be another monster to tackle. Working out ways to properly recover following a long venture overseas could prove to be a determent, overall.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan stated on Tuesday via conference call he does not anticipate any competitive disadvantage to playing in London, and essentially 10 road games next season. The Jaguars will have to travel to nine cities including London. That many weeks away from their families and their home of Jacksonville. Any players which will opt to sign with the team will have to do so knowing that their stay during the regular season may consist of just under two months of actually being in the city during the regular season.
A typical team’s player would spend a little over two months in the city their team plays in — nine weeks including the bye.
Former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey cryptically noted how glad he is to not be in Jacksonville anymore only hours after the announcement was made official. Whether or not this constitutes a players’ disdain for the London series, it could indicate at least one former player’s idea of how they’d feel if another London game was announced for their team.
Glad I’m not where I used to be anymore— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) February 5, 2020
Some players, such as Jaguars right guard Will Richardson last season, seemed to embrace the opportunity to explore a new city. While it is absolutely a business trip, the allure of a London experience doesn’t come often for people in this country, especially not during a football season for the league’s players. Tenured veterans were not as kind to the routine of having to adapt to the time change.
Overall, it remains to be seen how players may react to being told they are spending one more week away from their families or whether or not it will affect the team’s ability to court free agents. Regardless, the Jaguars will be able to find out as we inch ever closer to free agency in March when deals are set to be made an announced.