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What is Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson’s trade market?

Zach Goodall

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Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson (97) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

News broke the other day that the Jacksonville Jaguars are attempting to trade defensive tackle Malik Jackson and running back Carlos Hyde, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.

It’s hard to assume Hyde will have much of a trade market whatsoever. Jacksonville sent the Cleveland Browns a 2019 5th round pick for Hyde’s services, and in return the Jaguars got 3.3 yards per carry – 189 yards on 58 carries – and zero touchdowns in eight games. Hyde was made inactive in the Jaguars’ Week 15 game against Washington, and speculation from the media would indicate it was due to Hyde refusing to dress for the game after expressing frustration with his role.

If a team trades anything other than a 2020 conditional late-round pick for Hyde, consider it a win.

However, Malik Jackson is another story.

Jackson, who signed a six year, $85.5 million contract with Jacksonville in 2016, is quietly still one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson finished the 2018 season with 53 QB pressures, which ranks 9th amongst NFL defensive tackles. What makes that more impressive is that he did that on 388 pass snaps, which ranks 28th among all defensive tackles. On the right side of 30 (he turned 29 in January), and considering his production level, Jackson is a player with a lot of juice left who can contribute to a team’s pass rush for another couple of years.

While Jackson’s cap hit for the three remaining years on his contract look scary at first – $11 million in 2019, $13.75 million in 2020 and 2021 – his remaining guarantees (a whopping $4 million in total) would not transfer in a trade. Jacksonville is left with those guarantees as a “dead cap” hit. If the trade is made before June 1st, the Jaguars would have a dead cap hit of $4 million on the 2019 cap table. After June 1st – $2 million in 2019, $2 million in 2020. And the team that receives Jackson would owe him $0 in guarantees. Zero. Zilch. Nothing.

Considering how contract restructures work in the modern NFL, it’s crazy to assume Jackson wouldn’t be willing to do just that. Often, a percentage of the player’s yearly salary (the cap hit) is converted into a signing bonus that is  guaranteed, and is prorated over the length of the deal to limit cap space implications. It benefits both sides: The player gets guaranteed money, and the team creates cap space.

It’s safe to assume Jackson would like to add some guarantees to his deal, since he’d have none with a new team and would still have three years remaining on his contract. Sure, he’d have to take a bit of a yearly paycut, but in return he guarantees himself millions of dollars over the next three years. Hypothetically, if he was hurt in his first game with a new team, said team could release him and he’d only ever receive that one game check. So, any team that trades for Jackson would most likely be able to restructure Jackson’s deal to prorate a signing bonus guarantee over the remainder of his contract, and lower his cap hit each year.

And if Jackson decided that he didn’t want to take a paycut? He would simply get cut and receive nothing more than the $4 million Jacksonville owes him, and hope that a team would give him comparable money on the open market. Despite the interest he should receive on the trade market, it’s hard to assume teams would drive up his price in a bidding war for his third contract. It’d be in his best interest to restructure.

With all of this in mind, what could Jackson’s market look like? Who needs interior pass rush help, and has enough cap space to bring Jackson in, restructure or not?

Indianapolis Colts

2019 cap space: $106,411,235

The Colts have the most cap in the NFL, a huge need for interior pass rush, and nine draft picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Their leading interior defensive lineman in terms of pass rush production was Denico Autry, who recorded eight sacks and 34 pressures when playing inside in 2018 according to PFF. While those numbers are nice, there’s a serious drop off after Autry, and considering Autry was used as a chesspiece across the line, the Colts could use a true 3-technique tackle like Jackson for constant interior pressure.

At pick #26 in the 1st round, the Colts are far out of reach from top defensive tackle prospects such as Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Michigan’s Rashan Gary, and have plenty of needs across the roster they could utlize that pick on. With two 4th round picks and an abundance of cap space, Indianapolis are an easy fit for Jackson’s services. Odds are, the Colts won’t find an interior pass rusher of Jackson’s caliber with the 136th pick in the draft, so shipping their 4th round compensatory pick to Jacksonville would be a good deal for both sides.

Cleveland Browns

2019 cap space: $79,149,465

The Browns, much like the Colts, have money to burn. On top of their nearly $80 million in cap space, the Browns also have 10 draft picks, and a roster that is talented enough to compete with Baker Mayfield entering his first full season as the starting quarterback. Given all of this offseason arsenal, it’s easy to peg the Browns as playoff contenders in 2019 (woah, that feels weird to type), so long as they utilize their assets correctly this offseason.

While their primary edge rusher position is filled by 2017 first overall pick Myles Garrett who has 20.5 sacks in his first two seasons, only one defensive lineman had double digit pressures for the Browns in 2018, that being second year defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi with 36. There’s been discussions of the Browns using their 17th overall pick to help boost their pass rush, but mocks have typically pointed towards them going with an edge rusher to create a tandem with Garrett on the outside.

If Cleveland is set on creating a dynamic edge tandem, then sliding Malik Jackson in at defensive tackle in a rotation with Ogunjobi, as well as creating packages with both players on the field, would create pure havoc against opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks. As Cleveland is a pretty young team, an experienced veteran such as Jackson, who has a Super Bowl and multiple playoff appearances under his belt during his career, would be a nice bonus on top of his production.

In hindsight, the Browns fleeced the Jaguars in trading Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville for a 5th round pick. It would honestly be a win for Jacksonville if they could get that pick (#145) back in return for Jackson. As the Browns currently own three 5th round picks, this should be doable.

Los Angeles Chargers

2019 cap space: $22,523,868

Unlike the teams mentioned above, the Chargers don’t have an abundance of cash to spend or a ton of draft picks to ship away. However, they still should be a top candidate for Malik Jackson’s services.

The Chargers are in win-now mode. Philip Rivers is 37 years old, and while he’s still playing good football at this stage in his career, he isn’t getting any younger – and he’s currently playing on one of the most talented Chargers teams he’s ever had. Coming off of a 12-4 season and making it to the Divisional round of the 2018-19 NFL playoffs, the Chargers need to nail their upcoming offseason in order to keep competitive in the AFC before age starts to catch up with Rivers.

The Chargers could opt to bring back defensive tackles Darius Philon (26 pressures in 2018) and 34 year old Brandon Mebane (eight pressures in 13 games), who are both set to be free agents, but why not totally upgrade the defensive tackle position? Both players are solid in their roles, but neither offer the pass rush production that Jackson does. Pairing Jackson with defensive ends Joey Bosa (six sacks and 28 pressures in only seven games) and Melvin Ingram (nine sacks and 64 pressures) would be deadly.

Oh, and Bosa is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal. The Chargers will likely pick up his fifth year option to postpone paying him top-pass rusher money and spend that money to win in a short window of opportunity, but that clock is really ticking.

Jackson’s fit with the Chargers and his ability to help them win now should be enough for the Chargers to engage in trade talks. And the cherry on top? The Chargers defensive coordinator is none other than former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, who helped recruit Jackson to Jacksonville in 2016. So there’s dots to connect.

Los Angeles’ 4th round pick (#131) is the sweet spot, as it’s a late pick in the round and the Chargers won’t find a defensive tackle who can produce as much as Jackson does in their window of opportunity that late in the draft.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

What should the Jaguars do at linebacker with Myles Jack?

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 14, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) warms up prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Due to the unexpected leave of absence by Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, the Jaguars have found themselves in a precarious situation. Telvin Smith had been the Jaguars starting weak-side linebacker since his rookie year in 2014. Starting 69 games since 2014 Smith has accumulated a total of 445 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and nine interceptions.

The Jaguars are going to absolutely struggle to replace his production, regardless of how anyone felt about how he played during the 2018-2019 season. The first name which comes to mind in discussing what should happen at the weak-side linebacker position is Myles Jack.

Prior to 2018, Jack started all over the field for the Jaguars. During the 2017 season, Jack was the Jaguars starting middle linebacker in nickel situations — splitting time with former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny in base formations. Finally being allowed to start full time for the Jaguars, Jack had a solid season by all accounts accumulating 107 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception — his best season statistically as a Jaguar.

One of the primary issues the Jaguars have had on defense has been communication issues. Communication issues can come from any level of the defense, however, the middle linebacker is essentially the quarterback. He calls the plays in the huddle or just prior to the snap, and lines everyone up. Having someone more experienced or as experienced as Jack at this position is crucial. This begs the question — should Myles Jack move to weak-side linebacker?

Jack recently spoke out against the idea of moving to Will talking to John Reid of Jacksonville.com and other local media members at Calais Campbell’s second annual bowling classic event, “I’m playing Mike ’backer, there’s no question about it,” Jack stated. “Obviously, there’s no secret we’re going to have to find a Will (weak-side linebacker). As for me, I’m playing Mike until my time up here in Jacksonville is done.″

It is completely understandable why Jack would not want to change positions as he has his entire career thus far in Jacksonville. The Jaguars should think long and hard about which configuration is best for the football team. Having to throw in someone new such as Jake Ryan immediately into the fray could potentially ruin any good momentum you already had at the position.

One of the best possible outcomes would be for rookie third-round pick Quincy Williams to win the weak-side linebacker battle outright. Although he is obviously very raw coming out of Murray State, the Jaguars stated in their post-draft presser that Williams has “starter traits”. If they have to move Jack, there will be potentially three completely new starters for the Jaguars at the linebacker positions on opening day. The Jaguars will likely want to keep the defense intact going into the 2019 season.

Jake Ryan was signed by the Jaguars earlier this offseason. And although he has plenty of experience at inside linebacker — two years starting with the Packers –, he is not even one year removed from a torn ACL. Not only will Ryan be behind in terms of on-field play, but he is also brand new to the Jaguars defense — although it is someone vanilla. All of the struggles Jack had at MLB last year may be amplified with Ryan this year.

Potential Starting Combinations:

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack
SLB — Jake Ryan

Pros:

  • Myles Jack stays at one position for longer than a season
  • Jaguars can get Jake Ryan on the field in some capacity

Cons:

  • Rookie weak-side linebacker

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack at a consistent position
  • Josh Allen playing a primary role on defense
  • The speed at the LB position

Cons:

  • Lack of experience at two LB spots
  • Myles Jack possibly not at “natural” position

WLB — Myles Jack
MLB — Jake Ryan

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack moves back to his natural position
  • Jake Ryan offers veteran experience and leadership at MLB position
  • Josh Allen gains experience at linebacker in year one

Cons:

  • Myles Jack moving positions again
  • Jake Ryan first-year Jaguars MLB coming off a torn ACL

Solution: 

The Jaguars may feel the best configuration for their initial starting lineup at linebacker will be to allow Myles Jack to start his contract year at middle linebacker. Jack — having a full year starting at MLB — will be much more comfortable and allow the Jaguars to have some continuity at the position for the first time in three years. This leaves Quincy Williams as the starter at weak-side linebacker in his rookie year.

Whether it be Jake Ryan starting out at SAM or Josh Allen, the Jaguars should be happy about the production coming from the strong-side linebacker position. Josh Allen may not start out right away due to being primarily in a pass-rushing role during his rookie year, however — with experience –, he may be able to give the Jaguars no choice in the matter.

The most uncomfortable part of this formation would be the Jaguars starting two rookies on their defense. Inexperience on the Jaguars defense could be their Achilles heel. If the Jaguars were to start both rookies at linebacker, the Jaguars would have a combined 10 starts between four starters in the Jaguars defense. Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison have started 10 games together.

Whatever the Jaguars choose initially with their starting combination at linebacker, it could very easily be changed before the regular season begins. The Jaguars did not want to have to make this many changes to their defense in such a short period, however, Telvin Smith has forced their hand.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars workout free agent RB Mike Gillislee

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) stiff arms Washington Redskins linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (51) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jaguars prepare to open up voluntary OTAs next week, they are still forming their ideal 90-man roster. A position which has been completely revamped has been the RB position. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Jaguars brought in former Patriots and Saints RB Mike Gillislee for a workout.

Gillislee most recently played for the New Orleans Saints only seeing action in four games accumulating 43 yards on 16 attempts and zero touchdowns. His most successful season came as a member of the Buffalo Bills where he accumulated 576 yards on 101 attempts and nine touchdowns.

The Jaguars attempted to sign him last year, however, he signed with the Saints. The Jaguars may want to simply do their due diligence on a running back they had a prior interest in, just in case.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 53-Man Roster Prediction: Undrafted city of the south?

Connor Neal

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Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; A view of the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium during the second half of a football game at EverBank Field.The Green Bay Packers won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

May 9th was a busy day for the Jaguars. On top of Telvin Smith announcing that he will step away from football for the 2019 season, they also finalized their 90-man roster. I wanted to take a deeper dive into each position to see who will make the final roster. There is a lot of talent the Jaguars will have to part within these coming months.

I will be breaking down each position individually.

Quarterback (3): 

Nick Foles (Starter), Gardner Minshew (Backup), Alex McGough (3rd String)

The true battle here is between Alex McGough and Tanner Lee for a roster spot.

Runningback (4):

Leonard Fournette (Starter), Ryquell Armstead (Backup), Alfred Blue (3rd String), Benny Cunningham (4th String)

I believe Ryquell Armstead will earn the backup position to Leonard Fournette before the season starts. Once Fournette goes down with an injury, don’t be surprised if Armstead blows you away with his talent. Thomas Rawls isn’t likely to make the roster but the Jaguars could give him a roster spot over Benny Cunningham if they so choose.

Wide Receiver (6):

Dede Westbrook (Starter), Marqise Lee (Starter), Chris Conley (Starter), DJ Chark Jr (Backup), Keelan Cole (3rd String), Tyre Brady (4th String)

Tyre Brady is a player who could jeopardize Keelan Cole’s roster spot if he shines in rookie camp. Cole’s performance last year was disappointing, especially after he stood out as an undrafted rookie. Chris Conley, currently, is better than DJ Chark. DJ Chark has the potential to be a good starting wide receiver in the NFL, but he has to develop first.

Tight End (3):

Josh Oliver (Starter), Geoff Swaim (Backup), James O’Shaughnessy (3rd String)

Josh Oliver, Jaguars third-round pick out of San Jose State, will likely be the starter. However, because Oliver has virtually no blocking skills Geoff Swaim will be the lead blocking tight end on the team.

Offensive Tackle (4):

Cam Robinson (Starter), Jawaan Taylor (Starter), Will Richardson (Backup), Josh Wells (Backup)

There aren’t many surprises at this position. The Jaguars former second-round pick, Cam Robinson, and this year’s first-round pick, Jawaan Taylor, will be starters. Jawaan Taylor will compete with Will Richardson for the starting right tackle position. However, it shouldn’t be hard for Taylor to secure that starting spot.

Offensive Guard (4):

Andrew Norwell (Starter), AJ Cann (Starter), KC McDermott (Backup), Donnell Greene (Backup)

AJ Cann could make right guard the biggest need for the Jaguars this coming season. Cann is a bad offensive lineman, who will have the starting role because of lack of competition. It was surprising the Jaguars didn’t draft a guard during the 2019 NFL Draft. Keep an eye out for Donnell Greene, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota.

Center (2):

Brandon Linder (Starter), Tyler Shatley (Backup)

Brandon Linder, a converted guard, has been outstanding thus far through his career as a center. His starting spot will not be at risk.

Defensive Tackle (5):

Calais Campbell (Starter), Marcell Dareus (Starter), Taven Bryan (Backup), Abry Jones (Backup), Dontavius Russell (3rd String)

In this scenario, I have the Jaguars pushing Calais Campbell inside to defensive tackle. If they chose to start Josh Allen at EDGE, Campbell should be pushed inside as he will beat out Taven Bryan with ease. It isn’t likely the Jaguars chose to do this, but if they do, their defensive line will be scary good.

Defensive End (4):

Yannick Ngakoue (Starter), Josh Allen (Starter), Dawuane Smoot (Backup), Lerentee McCray (Backup)

As I mentioned earlier, I have the Jaguars starting Josh Allen at EDGE instead of Campbell. If the Jaguars decide to start Campbell at EDGE, which is likely, Allen could start for the Jaguars at linebacker if they want to utilize him instantly.

Linebacker (5):

Myles Jack (Starter), Jake Ryan (Starter), Quincy Williams (Starter), Leon Jacobs (Backup), Joe Giles-Harris (Backup)

Quincy Williams, the shocking third-round pick, has a good chance to start since Telvin Smith will not play football in this upcoming season. If the Jaguars choose to play Josh Allen at linebacker, he would fit best at strong-side linebacker. So, they could shift Myles Jack over to weak-side linebacker and have Jake Ryan start at middle linebacker instead. If that happens, Quincy Williams will not start. Once Telvin Smith broke the news that he will not return this year, the chances of Joe Giles-Harris’s chances of making the roster skyrocketed. Giles-Harris is a player I personally would have been fine with the Jaguars taking in the third-round over Quincy Williams.

Cornerback (6): 

Jalen Ramsey (Starter), AJ Bouye (Starter), DJ Hayden (Starter), Quenton Meeks (Backup), Saivion Smith (Backup), Tre Herndon (3rd String)

The Jaguars starters here are incredible, that can’t be said about the depth. Quentin Meeks was an undrafted free agent last year who, last season, started in 1 game and played in 8. If the Jaguars chose to sign Saivion Smith and Tre Herndon after rookie camp, there would be 3 undrafted free agents that would be serving as the Jaguars depth. Two of those free agents, Meeks and Smith, were expected to be drafted in the mid rounds of their respective drafts.

Safety (4):

Ronnie Harrison (Starter), Jarrod Wilson (Starter), Cody Davis (Backup), Zedrick Woods (Backup)

Ronnie Harrison played great last season after he beat out Barry Church for the starting strong safety position. Jarrod Wilson is an intriguing player as he has only started 2 games for the Jaguar in his 3 years on the team. Free safety was a position many expected the Jaguars to address in the 2019 NFL Draft, but the Jaguars felt safe with Wilson as the starting free safety. Wilson has the potential to be a good starter, but we will have to wait and see how he turns out.

Kicker (1):

Josh Lambo (Starter)

Punter (1):

Logan Cooke (Starter)

Long snapper (1):

Matt Overton (Starter)

Kick Returner:

DJ Chark (Starter)

Punt Returner:

Dede Westbrook (Starter)

Moves I wouldn’t be shocked to see happen:

QB: Tanner Lee as the 3rd string quarterback over Alex McGough.

RB: Thomas Rawls beating out Benny Cunningham for the 4th string running back position.

WR: The Jaguars dropping Keelan Cole and keeping undrafted free agents Tyre Brady or Dredrick Snelson to fill in his role as a 3rd string wide receiver.

OL: Donnell Greene beating out AJ Cann for the starting right guard position before the season is over with.

DL: The Jaguars utilizing Josh Allen at both EDGE and linebacker.

LB: Joe Giles-Harris starting at weak-side linebacker over Quincy Williams.

CB: The Jaguars signing undrafted free agent Tae Hayes over fellow undrafted free agent Tre Herndon as the 3rd string cornerback.

S: The Jaguars choosing to keep Andrew Wingard over the speedster, Zedrick Woods, as a backup safety.

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