The NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars are facing some big challenges as the new season draws closer. They need to cope with several opt-outs that have appeared in the final month before games begin on September 10, and will have to figure out how to make some adjustments.
Unlike many teams who saw players decide to sit out because of the coronavirus, the Jags are dealing with exits for a number of reasons.
Jaguars’ Roster Shrinks Ahead Of The NFL Season
Defensive end Aaron Lynch, who is 27, announced on Monday that he is retiring due to personal reasons. This is another loss for the Jaguars, and it is not the only one as NFL teams need to be prepared for this situation; it seems like an ongoing trend among many players. Lynch had 20 sacks so far in more than six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears. He signed a one-year contract worth $1.01 million with the Jaguars back in March, and has now become the third free-agent who won’t play the upcoming season in September.
Lynch is the sixth defensive lineman to have decided to opt-out, go on injured reserve or retire since July 31. His retirement came one day after veteran end/tackle Rodney Gunter stated he was also quitting the game because of a coronary disease. At least Gunter has a more valid reason to have opted out of the upcoming season.
Coach Marrone Remains Positive
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was present for a news conference on Monday morning, and he referred to the current situation, saying, “The one thing I think I’ve learned over the history of this league is even though you’re doing all these moves or you’re doing all these things to fix things and you feel comfortable, at any moment in time those things can change.” Marrone focuses on the hard work the team does for its stability, for having everybody in, but he is aware that drastic changes can happen all of a sudden.
Marrone also said, “And you’ve got to be prepared and you’ve got to be able to do it. I know that there will be a lot written about, kind of like you said, these plans that they have, have been blown up. But it’s also a great opportunity and a great challenge for these other guys to step up, and if you have that happen, that’s great. Especially the young guys.” For the players who have stepped away from the season, the team needs to find replacements and the big hope is mostly on the young generations.
Marrone added further, “The guys that we’re talking about [that are not available] were guys that were experienced, guys that have done it before.” The coach highlights the importance of veteran players, who play a vital role for the team and explains that these are providing a needed combination of experience and skill, but that calling on younger players will help build the team for years to come.
Other Jaguars Step Away From NFL Football
Another player also opted out of the season is tackle Al Woods, who is leaving due to concerns of the coronavirus. Both Woods and Gunter were brought in to replace Marcell Dareus and Calais Campbell. The Jaguars refused to accept Dareus’ 2020 option and, because of that, it saved $19.5 million. The team traded Campbell, who was supposed to earn $15 million and count $17.5 against the salary cap this season, to the Baltimore Ravens last March.
Other players have opted out because of the pandemic, as well. End/linebacker Lerentee McCray is out and tackles Dontavius Russell and Brian Price were assigned to IR. However, Price recovered from the injury and was released on an injury settlement on Monday. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is currently in football limbo, unwilling to sign his franchise tag. He hasn’t been seen at NFL training camps, but is reportedly talking to Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell to try to reach some sort of agreement. That comes after Ngakoue fired his agent last week.