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.