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Custom Keelan Cole Jersey Large

Keelan Cole came down with three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown on four targets Sunday in the Jaguars’ Week 17 win over the Colts.

Fantasy Impact:

Cole had one of his better games on Sunday as the third year receiver has been a disappointment in 2019. Cole finishes with 24 catches, 361 receiving yards and three touchdown catches and will have to earn a roster spot in 2020.

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After improving his all-around game in 2019, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue isn’t viewed as one of the top 10 best free agents in the 2020 offseason by one major platform but is still seen as one of the top edge defenders on the market.

On Tuesday, Pro Football Focus released its list of the top 50 available free agents in the impending offseason. Ngakoue, who is Jacksonville’s most anticipated free agent in several years, was listed 18th by PFF. Ngakoue is the No. 3 ranked edge defender on the list, behind Shaquil Barrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

While an argument can certainly be made for Ngakoue to be higher on this list after a rebound 2019 season, in which he improved as a run defender on his way to notching eight sacks and four forced fumbles, PFF makes the argument that Ngakoue has been a good but not dominant player, hence his ranking at 18.

“Ngakoue has followed his collegiate profile as a good pass-rusher and below-average run defender (career-high grade of 60.0 in 2018). His best season came in 2017, as he graded at 81.0 overall to go with an 88.2 pass-rush grade and 82 total pressures (14 sacks, 15 QB hits, 53 hurries). Over the last two years, he’s posted pass-rush grades of 76.8 in 2018 and 77.5 this season, both solid numbers but not at the 2017 level that had Ngakoue looking like the next great pass-rusher in the NFL,” PFF said. “At just 25 years old, he looks like a strong presence off the edge for the foreseeable future, but his questionable run defense coupled with the fact that more valuable positions are hitting the open market has us lower on him than most.”

It is a bit surprising to see Ngakoue this low on PFF’s free agent rankings considering his age, track record of production (37.5 sacks and 13 forced fumbles in four seasons), and the value of his position. With that said, there are a number of talented offensive weapons and other front-seven defenders in this year’s free agency crop, such as Barrett and Clowney, Corey Littleton, Jack Conklin, Justin Simmons, A.J. Green, Amari Cooper, Chris Jones, and Brandon Scherff.

Considering the position Ngakoue plays and his history in the NFL, he is almost assuredly going to command one of the largest contracts amongst all edge players in the NFL. Whether the deal comes from the Jaguars is a whole other question, but Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said bringing back Ngakoue would be the team’s top priority moving forward after the 2019 season ended.

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Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo was named a Second Team All-Pro for the 2019 NFL season.

Lambo set the franchise record this season with 33 field goals in 2019. Mike Hollis had held the record with two 31 field goals in the 1997 and 1999 NFL seasons.

Last Sunday after the Jaguars’ victory against the Indianapolis Colts, Lambo stated he was “super, super pleased with this season” after the season he had kicking missing only one kick on the season.

Snubbed for getting recognition in the Pro Bowl (first alternate), Lambo hoped the media would recognize the All-Pro team was not a fan vote, only now getting named second-team All Pro.

“Obviously, Justin Tucker is the best there is, but not this season,” Lambo said last Sunday. After missing only one kick on the year Lambo’s confidence has sky-rocketed. “I don’t think there’s anybody better than that right now.”

In a season of disappointments, it’s good to see a few bright spots, of which Lambo certainly was one.

The only other Jaguars player to receive any All-Pro votes was punter Logan Cooke.

Custom A.J. Bouye Jersey Large

Every offseason, NFL teams have to make some of the hardest decisions any organization can be faced with. Because of cap constrictions, each team has the ponder the fate of players who still have longstanding contracts with the franchise. The Jacksonville Jaguars are no different.

We saw a mass exodus of cap-casualties during the 2018 offseason, with players like Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson being cut before their contracts ran their courses to give Jacksonville some financial breathing room.

With the Jaguars already projected to be $1.511 million over the cap in 2020, per OverTheCap.com, it should be expected for Jacksonville to release even more players this offseason to give themselves more flexibility. This will be especially true if the Jaguars hope to extend defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is expected to sign one of the largest contracts of any pass-rusher in the NFL once he hits the open market in a few months.

So with Jacksonville needing to shake up its roster, which current players are potential cap-casualties this offseason?

WR Marqise Lee

Two years ago, Marqise Lee signed a four-year deal worth $34 million to remain in Jacksonville. Since then, Lee has suffered through season-ending injuries in consecutive years and has caught only three passes for 18 yards due to being sidelined for 26 games in two years, which including the entirety of the 2018 season following a torn ACL in the preseason.

Lee carries an $8.75 million cap hit in 2020, and cutting him would save Jacksonville $5.25 million, per OverTheCap. With the injuries Lee has had to deal with, plus the fact that it seems like the offense has moved on without him, he is a prime cap-casualty candidate.

LB Jake Ryan

Expected by some to contribute heavily to the Jaguars’ lackluster linebacker group in 2020, Jake Ryan dealt with injuries most of the season and only played in two games, with only one defensive snap. Ryan was never healthy enough to make an impression on the Jaguars in 2019, and with the way his contract is set up, it appears he is likely on his way out.

According to OverTheCap, Ryan has a cap number of $6.25 in 2020, but cutting him would result in a meager $250,000 in dead money for Jacksonville. Because of this, Jacksonville saves a sizeable $6 million if they cut ties with Ryan.

DL Calais Campbell

This one would sting, but circumstances may force the Jaguars’ hand. Campbell has been the heart and soul of the Jaguars since he signed four-year, $60 million deal with Jacksonville in the 2017 offseason. Campbell’s production has slowed down a bit since then, totaling only 6.5 sacks in 2019 after posting double-digit figures the previous two years. Jacksonville could deem Campbell as on track to continue to lose a step and try to shed his massive deal.

Entering the final year of his deal, Campbell is due $17.5 million in 2020. But because of how his deal is structured, Jacksonville could move on from Campbell to save a sizeable amount of money. If Campbell is cut, Jacksonville will get $15 million in cap relief, a large figure for a team that needs to find ways to save money.

DT Marcell Dareus

Losing Marcell Dareus to a core muscle injury seven games into the 2019 season is one of the many things that doomed the Jaguars’ defense last year, but it very well may have prepared them for what life without Dareus could look like. The former All-Pro defensive tackle isn’t as dominant as he once was, but he is still a big piece to what the Jaguars do defensively. Moving on from him will likely happen, but it won’t be a painless move.

Why is it likely to happen? For starters, Dareus carries the largest cap hit of any player on the Jaguars’ roster in 2020 ($22.5 million). If the Jaguars cut Dareus though? They save $20 million. Perhaps Dareus returns on a restructured deal, but his bloated cap figure as of today makes him a peak candidate to be cut this offseason.

CB A.J. Bouye

Another defensive starter with a big contract, A.J. Bouye has been solid albeit unspectacular for Jacksonville’s defense the past two seasons. After signing a five-year contract worth $67.5 million in 2017, Bouye recorded six interceptions and was named to the Pro Bowl in his first season in Jacksonville. Since then, Bouye has only recorded two.

Bouye is due $15.5 million in 2020, the fourth-largest cap hit on the roster, right behind Campbell, Dareus, and Nick Foles. If Jacksonville moves on from Bouye this offseason, they save $11.5 million, a sizeable chunk for a team that could potentially improve upon the position with the savings.

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The Jacksonville Jaguars experienced another disappointing season in 2019, going 5-11 for the second straight year.

But unlike 2018, which was a cataclysmic disaster, there were actually some bright spots for the Jaguars this season.

Whether it was the surprising play of Gardner Minshew or the development of a potentially dynamic receiving corps, Jacksonville can take some positives away from 2019.

One of those positive was the performance of running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette had a miserable 2018 campaign, to say the least. Injuries and suspensions limited him to eight games, and during that time, he rushed for just 439 yards and five touchdowns while averaging a meager 3.3 yards per carry.

As a matter of fact, Fournette was so bad that some were questioning whether or not the Jags would even bring him back for another season.

But it’s a good thing the Jaguars did, because Fournette was really good this year, finishing with 1,152 yards and three scores on the ground while logging 4.3 yards per attempt. In addition, Fournette flashed his ability as a receiver out of the backfield, hauling in 76 receptions for 522 yards.

For starters, this was Fournette’s best season to date. Yes, he was impressive during his rookie year, totaling 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as Jacksonville made it to the AFC Championship Game, but he recorded just 3.9 yards per tote, and he caught just 36 passes.

This season, the 24-year-old was much more efficient, and he more than doubled up his catches. Not only that, but Fournette actually remained largely healthy for the first time in his career, playing in 15 games.

Fournette also had this solid year in spite of the Jaguars owning a less-than-stellar offensive line, so his play in 2019 becomes that much more impressive when you take into consideration the fairly shoddy blocking in front of him.

Yes, Jacksonville actually had an aerial attack this season, as Minshew was a heck of a lot better than Blake Bortles was in 2018, and the receiving trio of DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley is nothing to sneeze at.

That surely helped Fournette have a stronger campaign, but we also need to give some credit where credit is due.

Clearly, Fournette worked really hard on his craft last offseason, as he went from being a guy who could potentially get cut to someone who is now a foundational piece in the Jags’ offense moving forward.

He was the Jaguars’ fourth overall pick in 2017 for a reason, as he had a terrific collegiate career at LSU, but it took him a little while to consistently display his talent on the professional level.

Now, it looks like Fournette has finally broken out, and on a Jacksonville offense that appears to be getting stronger, we should be expecting rather big things from the New Orleans native as time progresses.

As for Fournette’s performance in 2019? I think he deserves an A-minus.

His efficiency wasn’t elite, but it was a heck of a lot better than his first couple of seasons, and the fact that he became a legitimate threat as a pass-catcher out of the backfield is huge.

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Last week I shared a watch list that Mile High Report has started to compile for players that made sense for the 2020 offseason. Some of them were free agents, others draft prospects, but one thing we didn’t look at were the potential cap cuts.

Let’s go over that today. It’s a bit of an educated guessing game to try and project who may be available months, but one of the things that is ever present in NFL contracts is guaranteed vs potential money. NFL teams structure contracts in a way that say a 3-year $36 million deal is actually closer to a 2-year deal with the possibility for a third season.

It’s hard to project down the road, so teams work these kind of contracts with the idea that they’ll be able to pull the plug if the player, cap, or team’s situation doesn’t warrant the cap hit a player commands.

Which is where the educated part comes in. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but I took a look at the teams with the least amount of available 2020 cap space. Some were already inches from the red, while others are facing difficult choices if they want to retain a key player or maintain their current core group.

In each scenario I then took a look through Over the Cap’s team page to find out what contracts provided the most flexibility. Some of the following will be better fits than others, of course, but the idea is to illuminate additional talent that could become available this spring.

It’s worth noting that so long as the player is cut rather than has a team option declined, signing him will not count against the compensatory draft process.

Let’s get started:

Carolina Panthers: $25 million in cap room.

With Matt Rhule signing on for a 7-year deal, this has the potential to turn into a complete tear down and rebuild. If that happens, there’s a number of deals that could come off the books if the decision makers decide to go all in on Trevor Lawrence in 2021. Here are a couple that make some sense for the Broncos:

DL – Dontari Poe – The kung fu panda would bring size and some pass rush power.

WR – Jarius Wright – A former Shurmur receiver when both were with the Vikings.

New Orleans Saints: $11.7 million in cap room.

Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have been kicking the cap can down the road in order to keep the championship window open while they had Drew Brees. Because of it, they have a number of cap charges on the books for players that aren’t currently under contract. At present Brees and Teddy Bridgewater will count for at least $17.9 million in 2020, and that’s before either resigns.

CB – Janoris Jenkins – Cutting him would leave $0 dead money on the Saints cap.

LB – Kiko Alonso – Former Dolphin would bring some range to the second level.

OL – Nick Easton – A fresh start may be what he needs.

Minnesota Vikings: -$5.4 million in cap room.

The Vikings have a core that has made the playoffs in two of the last three years with two different quarterbacks. Unfortunately Kirk Cousins’ $31,000,000 cap figure will create some tough choices for other core members of the team. If Zimmer decides to go for another shot at a ring in 2020 he’ll all but certainly need to find a way to part with one or more of the following:

DL – Linval Joseph – This seems unlikely because he’s pretty good and clearly the best interior linemen Zimmer has, but cutting him frees up $10.5 million.

CB – Xavier Rhodes – There were multiple reports that the team wanted to trade him last offseason. Add that up to what was a pretty disappointing 2019 and his departure seems inevitable at this point.

OT – Riley Reiff – He was given a pretty big deal to come over from the Lions back in 2017. He’s good enough at a position that’s hard to come by that it’d make little sense to cut him if they want to keep the window open, but doing so would free up close to $9 million.

Jacksonville Jaguars: -$1.9 million in cap room.

The Jaguars are a bit of a case study in what not to do if you’re uncertain about a potential franchise quarterback. High off a 12-4 season, Tom Coughlin handed Blake Bortles a big extension that carried a $26.5 million bonus. After that didn’t work out, he turned around and outbid…themselves for Nick Foles last spring.

Now that it’s all gone up in flames, Jacksonville is looking at the beginning of a painful rebuild and will desperately need to create some salary cap relief if they wish to retain the underrated Yannick Ngakoue who currently looks like the top edge player in free agency.

If Elway and the Broncos are smart, they could capitalize on another team’s errors:

CB – A.J. Bouye – He’s the best corner on their roster after the Jalen Ramsey trade last year, but cutting him fees up a little over $11 million.

DL – Calais Campbell – This is one I’m on the lookout for. Campbell almost signed in Denver the last time he was a free agent, and offers the kind of skillset that would be valuble in Fangio’s defense.

C – Brandon Linder

DL, Abry Jones – If the Jags are looking to keep Campbell and still create some cap relief these two moves make a lot of sense. Neither Jones or Linder carries any dead money on their current contract and releasing both nets $12 million in cap space.

LB – Jake Ryan – The former Packer suffered a knee injury in training camp and all but a handful of snaps near the end of the 2019 season. His release would create $6 million in relief.

Chicago Bears: $7 million in cap room.

It’s become trendy to trade for talent in order to surround a young franchise quarterback with proven help. In a vacuum it makes sense because there is not a more valuable commodity in professional sports than a star quarterback on his rookie contract. Unfortunately for the Bears, they didn’t have a Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, or even Jared Goff.

They got Mitched.

Now two years removed from a 12-4 season, they have an aging core and have little in the way of draft capital to improve their 8-8 roster from 2019. It means they’ll probably need to move on from a player or two in order to try and play the market in their favor, which could directly impact the Broncos. After all, some of the following players played their best football under Vic Fangio:

CB – Prince Amukamara – He’ll turn 31 in June and moving on would create $8 million in cap space. He offers the kind of physical skillset Fangio wants and would give the Broncos a corner who can press a receiver when needed.

WR – Taylor Gabriel – He missed some time in 2019 and could free up more than $4 million with his release. He could provide a vertical presence in the Shurmur offense.

WR/KR – Cordarelle Patteson – While Bill Belichick has spoken about how dangerous he is on special teams, moving on creates more than $5 million in cap room. Shurmur would be familiar with his skillset as both were with the Vikings in 2016.

DL – Akiem Hicks – He’s my dream release because he’s such a good player at his peak. Would slide into the Shelby Harris role in the Broncos defense as a defensive end in base personnel and 3T in nickel packages. Doubt Ryan Pace is so foolish, but it would free up almost $9 million to cut him.

Kansas City Chiefs: $21 million in cap room.

Patrick Mahomes will enter 2020 on the last year of his rookie contract, so Andy Reid will have one last chance to really abuse the value it provides. Reports have suggested Kansas City is meticulously planning for what his inevitable market setting extension will look like, so it’s going to be interesting to watch what they do in free agency.

WR – Sammy Watkins – When Mecole Hardman was drafted last spring the popular narrative was that he served as insurance against Tyreek Hill’s legal woes. I thought it far likelier than he was brought in as the long term replacement for Sammy Watkins. The former Bill and Ram has had his moments, but is often injured and at best the third receiver in their passing game.

If the Chiefs want to be active in free agency or make a serious attempt to resign Chris Jones, cutting Watkins makes a lot of sense. Doing so would cost them $7 million against the cap, but free up two thirds of his $21 million cap hit.

Pittsburgh Steelers: $1.4 million in cap room.

If he worked for just about any other franchise Kevin Colbert would be facing a lot of questions in 2020. His roster has missed the playoffs the last two seasons and only Minnesota and Jacksonville have worse cap situations. They will almost surely have to move on from a beloved veteran or two this spring, especially if they plan to try and retain Bud Dupree. The following are potential fits for Denver:

RG – David Decastro – Close to half his contract is guaranteed, which probably makes him safe. Still keep an eye out because he’d be a picture perfect addition to the Broncos.

DL – Cameron Heyard – Strictly speaking in terms of salary, cutting him would free up $9.5 million.

LB – Mark Barron – He hasn’t lived up to his contract, so I wouldn’t be surprised at this. My hope is Fangio looks elsewhere if Denver is trying to replace Todd Davis.

LG – Ramon Foster – There was a lot of buzz about signing him last year before he reupped with Pittsburgh. He’s 34, but could be a nice short term bandaid while Munchak develops a younger player.

DL – Tyson Alualu – A former bust with the Jaguars has quietly been a nice contributor in the Steel city. I don’t think he’s going to face the ax because his cap number isn’t that high, but cutting him would create $2.75 million.

Atlanta Falcons: $6.7 million in cap room.

It was considered a bit of a surprise when Tom Dimitroff and Dan Quinn were retained after the 2019 season. One reason it made sense is because the team has limited cap space and very few ways to get accumulate more that it’d be pretty tough for a new regime to make any significant upgrades to the roster this spring.

Arthur Blank is nothing if not pragmatic, so it made more sense to sugarcoat a 7-9 finish and make Quinn the scapegoat if the capped out veteran team can’t compete next season. There is one clear way to create space that could benefit the Broncos:

C – Alex Mack

The former first round pick is 34, but could still be worth consideration if the Broncos elect not to pay Conner McGovern’s asking price. The Falcons have a little under $7 million in cap space right now, but cutting the 12th year veteran would open up close to $8 million.
Your Broncos’ Links
My 2020 Denver Broncos Watch List – Mile High Report

A list of players and prospects that I plan to dig into further as the Denver Broncos offseason kicks into full gear.

Who are some possible targets for the Denver Broncos in the offseason? – Mile High Report

Whether in free agency or the NFL Draft, it’s not too early to list some dream players the Broncos could target.

Early tape notes on the Pat Shurmur offense – Mile High Report

The former Giants’ head coach is an experienced play caller who probably won’t leave egg on Fangio’s face.

Report: Broncos have fired quarterback’s coach T.C. McCartney – Mile High Report

More changes on the Broncos offensive coaching staff.

Denver Broncos forgo continuity to upgrade offensive play calling – Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos will start over with a new offense in 2020, and hopefully it will lead to a much improved offense.

Report: Shelby Harris prefers to stay in Denver if the price is right. If not, the Colts will be interested. – Mile High Report

Sounds like the Broncos have some competition for Shelby Harris.

Denver Broncos Free Agent Profile: Chris Harris Jr. – Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos could be saying goodbye to one of its all-time great players in Chris Harris Jr.

NFL Draft Links
PFF favorites in the 2020 NFL Draft | College Football and NFL Draft | PFF

Fulton has one of the most impressive grading profiles we’ve ever seen from an SEC cornerback. The biggest thing with Fulton has been the consistency. The redshirt junior has back-to-back seasons of elite grades and elite grades in conference play as well. He outgraded Greedy Williams in 2018 with an 89.7 coverage grade and followed that up with an 88.9 coverage grade this year. For his career in SEC play, Fulton’s earned a 92.8 coverage grade and allowed a completion percentage of only 41.3 against. Those are some damn good numbers to put up when looking ahead to the NFL.

2020 East-West Shrine Bowl: James Morgan chasing heroes – NFL.com

Green Bay native James Morgan has carried the influence of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers with him to the East-West Shrine Bowl — and the doorstep of the NFL. Plus, Day 3’s big winners.

NFL Links
Top 25 NFL free agents of 2020: No shortage of intriguing QBs – NFL.com

Which enticing talents could hit the open market in March? Gregg Rosenthal identifies the top 25 players currently in line to hit free agency — and the list of quarterbacks is quite intriguing.

Steelers ‘optimistic’ GM Kevin Colbert will be back – NFL.com

The Pittsburgh Steelers expect to keep their front office intact for the 2020 season. Owner Art Rooney II told reporters Rooney that he is “optimistic” GM Kevin Colbert will be back next season.

Luke Kuechly’s retirement could nudge Panthers toward rebuild – ProFootballTalk

Panthers owner David Tepper is not one to sandbag. While introducing new coach Matt Rhule last week, Tepper was practically bragging about his willingness to spend his way to success, and he spoke openly about the bright future of his team and its new program-builder.

George Kittle misses practice with ankle soreness – NFL.com

Niners tight end George Kittle missed Wednesday’s practice due to ankle soreness. NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reports Kittle’s availability for Sunday is not in question.

Preston Smith, Bryan Bulaga among limited participants in Packers practice – ProFootballTalk

The Packers have turned in their first injury report of the week and it made good on something head coach Matt LaFleur said before practice.

Travis Kelce limited at Chiefs practice – ProFootballTalk

Tight end Travis Kelce was limited in practice all of last week due to a knee problem and then caught 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns in last Sunday’s 51-31 win over the Texans, so Wednesday’s injury report might bode well for the Chiefs this weekend.

Custom Cam Robinson Jersey Large

 

by Cole McCauley
January 15, 2020

After winning the AFC South in 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars have had two straight mediocre seasons. Ending the 2019 season with a record of 6-10, Jacksonville once again finds itself with a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft.

The Jaguars have enough talent to surprise a lot of teams next year. At the same time, there are definite areas of concern that Jacksonville needs to address. Thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade, the Jaguars have two first-round picks.

Here are some options the team should consider with pick No. 9.
Isaiah Simmons

The Clemson linebacker/safety is one of the most versatile prospects in the 2020 draft class. After impressive showings in the College Football Playoff this year and in 2019 in general, Simmons has seen his stock rise of late.

At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Simmons has the size and athleticism to play either linebacker or safety for Jacksonville. The junior flew all around the field for the Tigers this year and the Jaguars could use some of that.

With Telvin Smith’s sudden departure from football and Myles Jack’s step back this year, the Jaguars could use a do-it-all defender with all the physical skills to be a future Pro Bowler one day.
Derrick Brown

The defensive line isn’t the most pressing need for Jacksonville, but it is a need nonetheless. Auburn’s Derrick Brown is considered by many to be the top defensive lineman in the class and if he falls to the Jaguars at nine, they could be getting a massive steal.

Calais Campbell is still a great player, but he’ll be 34 years old next season. Brown has the explosiveness, size, and raw power to make an immediate impact in Jacksonville and would form a scary trio along with Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue on the edge.

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound defensive lineman could go as early as third in the draft, but there’s a chance he could fall into Jacksonville’s lap.
Andrew Thomas

It was a tough year for the Jaguars’ offensive line. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson struggled in 2019 after tearing his ACL the year prior, so with the final prospect in the article, Jacksonville goes out and lands possibly the top tackle in the class.

Thomas was a freshman All-American for the University of Georgia in 2017 and led the way for D’Andre Swift in 2019. With how talented he is, the All-American tackle may not fall to pick No. 9, but it’s certainly a possibility. At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Thomas has excellent power, long arms, and has excelled as a run blocker.

If Jacksonville wants to commit to Leonard Fournette and running the ball, there’s no better option than Thomas if he’s available.

Custom Brandon Linder Jersey Large

Heading into the 2020 offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a few clear areas they will need to pour resources in to improve from the 6-10 season they just had. One of the most pressing of such areas will be rebuilding an offensive line that played below expectations.

Unlike some teams with poor offensive lines, the Jaguars can not blame the performance on lack of investment in the group. Jacksonville’s starting center and right guard are each on their second contracts with the team, the left guard is amongst the highest-paid players at his position in the NFL, and each of the offensive tackles were recent second-round draft picks.

But despite making the offensive line a priority in the construction of the team, it still ran into issues in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, the Jaguars’ front five turned in the 26th best season of all offensive lines.

A big reason for this ranking, PFF said, was the performance of third-year left tackle Cam Robinson. Robinson suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the second week of 2018 and had to battle through recovering from the injury this season, but he ultimately had a shaky year according to PFF.

“After returning from an injury-shortened second season, left tackle Cam Robinson showed more of the form that we saw from him as a rookie when he posted one of the worst pressure rates allowed in the NFL (9.0%),” PFF said. “This season, Robinson allowed 45 pressures at left tackle in 552 pass-blocking snaps for a slightly improved — yet, still concerning — rate of 8.2%.”

But Robinson is not the sole factor for the entire unit’s sole ranking, PFF explained. Aside from center Brandon Linder, they were not impressed with any of Jacksonville’s starting linemen. Considering the inconsistency of Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann and Jawaan Taylor’s penalty issues, this isn’t too surprising.

“As this ranking would suggest, Robinson wasn’t the only player along the line who struggled. Outside of Brandon Linder, there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about for Jacksonville up front,” PFF said.

Custom Dawuane Smoot Jersey Large

2019 was a dissapointing season for the Jacksonville Jaguars. No matter which way you cut it, a 6-10 record and a 2-4 record against AFC South teams is an unmitigated failure for a team who was hoping to rebound from 2018.

Despite the failures of last season though, there were a few positives to glean from the year. Among those were the emergence and flashes of several younger players on the roster on both sides of the ball.

For 2020 to be an improvement, and for head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell to keep their jobs secured, it would be prudent for Jacksonville to give these players larger roles ad more opportunities to impact games next year. Here are a few who have earned such roles:

RB Ryquell Armstead

Jacksonville made it clear week in and week out that the entire offense ran through third-year running back Leonard Fournette. In 15 games, Fournette touched the ball 341 times and played a staggering 83% of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps for the season. Because of the dependency on Fournette, rookie running back Ryquell Armstead became an afterthought. Armstead, a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, played more than 10 snaps only four times while Fournette was active, and only had 35 carries, the least a Jaguars’ backup running back has ever had in a season.

But when Armstead was given chances in 2019, he impressed. He scored only one less touchdown (two) than Fournette (three), and flashed the ability to spell Fournette without the offense losing a beat, showing good burst and ability to break tackles. He impressed the most as a pass-catcher, though. He caught 14 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, a 10.3 yard per catch average. For context, Fournette averaged 6.9 yards per reception.

Fournette will be a centerpiece for Jacksonville as long as he is healthy and on the roster, but Armstead deserves to get more touches in 2019.

DL Dawuane Smoot

Playing 38% of the Jaguars’ defensive snaps in 2019, versatile defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot had a breakout season. Entering the year with zero career sacks through two seasons, Smoot recorded six in a rotational role this past season, earning the praise, and trust, of his teammates and coaches.

Smoot mostly played defensive tackle on passing downs, giving the Jaguars an interior push with Calais Campbell and Taven Bryan. Smoot was purely a rotational player in 2019, but he was able to produce on third downs at a high rate thanks to improved block shedding ability. He deserves to see more snaps in 2020, especially in the base defense. Entering a contract season, now is the time to see if he can handle an expanded role.

DE Josh Allen

Unlike the previously listed players, rookie defensive end Josh Allen played a good bit for Jacksonville in 2019. But even with Allen playing a key role on the Jaguars’ defense, there is always room for this role to grow. Allen started only four games in 2019 and played 60% or more of the defensive snaps in only five games — the first five games of the season.

Despite playing only 60% of the defense’s snaps on a whole in 2019, Allen led the team in sacks with 10.5, and also recorded two forced fumbles, 11 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback hits. Allen deserves to have more responsibilities in 2020, ideally becoming an every-down player like he should have been toward the end of 2019.

LB Donald Payne

Third-year linebacker Donald Payne only played three defensive snaps in the first two seasons of his career, each with Jacksonville. After the Jaguars cut him before the 2019 season started, he was brought back in Week 8 to once again serve in a special-teams only role. That changed when starting middle linebacker Myles Jack was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, opening the door for Payne to start the final five games of the season.

In those starts, Payne showed massive improvement from week to week and produced at a much higher level than Najee Goode, Austin Calitro, and Quincy Williams. Whether he should start in 2020 is a different question, but he should at least be given increased reps in training camp and see some looks on Sundays.

QB Gardner Minshew

Gardner Minshew started 12 games for Jacksonville in 2019, and ultimately played in 14 games. So how should his role increase in 2020? For starters, he should be declared the starting quarterback before training camp and given the keys to start the next 16 games as he tries to prove if he can be a franchise passer or not.

In Minshew’s first eight starts, the return of Nick Foles was always an elephant in the room, as was the fact that Minshew was playing in an offense designed specifically for Foles instead of himself. In 2020, Minshew shouldn’t have to worry about either of these things. As long as the Jaguars do not add another big name to the quarterback room, they should build the 2020 offense around Minshew and let him lead them for the entirety of the season.

Custom Calais Campbell Jersey Large

Calais Campbell is an NFL defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars who is signed to a four-year, $60 million contract with the team.

As a 12-year veteran in the league, Campbell has made millions throughout his career and tells Jacksonville.com that he’s learned a lot about the value of budgeting your money. That’s why, when asked for financial advice for young athletes, he says he always tells them to “put away 80% minimum.”

“I think the biggest thing is you have to budget your fun,” he says. “That’s what I try to tell guys all the time. Honestly, you’re going to have ‘Momma, I made it’ moments, so enjoy yourself. Just budget and make sure you know what you want to spend on things you’ve earned the right to do.”
Defensive End Calais Campbell #93 of the Jacksonville Jaguars waves to the crowd after the game against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field on December 2, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars defeated the Colts 6 to 0.
Don Juan Moore/ Getty Images

Campbell adds that in many situations, young athletes enter the league and “buy everything they ever wanted, then they sometimes look up and they spend a lot more money than they thought.” His advice, he says, is to “understand what your budget is. All this [NFL] money coming in, I try to encourage them to put away 80% minimum.”

The 33-year-old, who grew up in Denver, Colorado, along with his seven siblings, says he also advises young athletes to steer clear of the hefty price tag that comes along with supporting and providing for family and friends.

“When I first got to the NFL, I was doing too much in terms of helping [family],” he says. “A lot of my family members were like, ‘We’ll just do less because he’s helping with more.’ Well, that’s not what I want. Everybody’s situation is different. I’m very close to my family, so I’m going to help them, but I’m going to make sure they help themselves, too.”

The University of Miami alum explains that it’s important to ensure that you’re budgeting how much you’re helping your family “because the worst thing is to give away all your money, have everybody spend it, and you’re back to being broke when you’re done playing, which happens way too much in this league.”

Like Campbell, several other NFL players have spoken openly about carefully spending their millions. In fact, Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams says he lives off roughly 10% of his NFL income so that he can invest and save the other 90%.

“I can go buy me a really nice car, I can go buy me a really nice house if I wanted to, I can go buy me a really nice chain — multiple chains — if I wanted to,” he tells Boston.com. “But that’s not going to suffice me for when I’m 40, 50, or 60. Who knows when I’m going to need that bread.″

Similarly, New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland says he holds himself to “strict guidelines” when it comes to spending his money, which is why he lives off 10% to 15% of his income while saving and investing the rest.

“It’s guaranteed football is going to be over one day,” he told ESPN in 2017. “I tell kids that all the time.”

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