The Jaguars have the least amount of salary cap space in the NFL. In fact, they have negative cap space. After releasing kicker Kai Forbath and electing not to pick up tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins' contract option, the Jaguars are roughly $1.38 million over the salary cap.
That number might make you a bit weary. Fear not! The Jaguars will have a number of tools at their disposal that should help them get well below the salary cap.
The first thing to consider here is that the team will get $11.6 million in rollover cap space. That'll get the Jaguars to roughly $10.2 million under the cap, and should be enough to pay for the Jaguars entire 2019 rookie class.
That leaves Jacksonville with just about $.2 million in cap space after you allocate money for the rookie class. Now, we have to start looking at which veteran players the Jaguars should and likely will move on from, to save $$$.
Veteran 3-tech defensive tackle Malik Jackson is clearly on the outs in Jacksonville. The team can no longer afford his massive contract, and they drafted his replacement, Taven Bryan, in the first round of last year's draft. By releasing Jackson, the Jaguars can save $11 million against the cap. That puts the Jags at $11.2 million in cap space.
Veteran right tackle Jermey Parnell is still average to above average when healthy. But he's long in the tooth and his replacement, Will Richardson, was just drafted in the fourth round of last year's class. Releasing Parnell will save the Jags $6 million in cap space. The Jaguars now have a little over $17 million to work with.
Next up we have malcontent running back Carlos Hyde. The Jaguars wasted a fifth-round pick in a mid-season trade for Hyde, but they'll cut bait with the disgruntled runner sooner rather than later, saving them $4.7 million against the cap. Tom Coughlin and company have now gotten the Jaguars to nearly $22 million in salary cap space.
Abry Jones is next on the chopping block. He's been a solid player for the Jaguars for a number of years and was a co-starter at defensive tackle with Marcell Dareus last season. The issue here is that the Jaguars can't afford to pay both Dareus and Jones. Jones is much cheaper than Dareus, but Dareus' play is on another level, so the Jaguars elect to part ways with homegrown talent Abry Jones. The Jaguars save $4 million in cap space by doing so and get to nearly $26 million in cap space.
Now we get to the contract restructuring portion of the salary cap rebuild.
The Jaguars should look to reduce Calais Campbell's salary cap number. Campbell publicly said he would be open to this, assuming the team adds another year to his deal. The Jaguars should look to shave around $3 million of Campbell's cap hit off the books with this contract restructure/extension. The Jaguars now have about $29 million in cap space.
There's no guarantee that Dareus will agree to it, but the Jaguars should also try to restructure his deal to save a bit more cash. They could look to add a year to his contract and remove some of his salary cap hit this season. With over $30 million in cap space, the Jags are now sitting pretty.
Now we get to a potential cut that I'm not in favor of, but one that might make some sense. Veteran free safety Tashaun Gipson will count $9.05 million against the cap in 2019 but has only $1.5 million in dead cap. That means the Jaguars can save $7.45 million against the cap by releasing Gipson. The Jaguars just signed versatile safety Jarrod Wilson to a three-year extension and also have Cody Davis, both of whom could potentially fill in for Gipson. In this scenario, if the Jaguars release Gip, they'd be sitting anywhere from $37-40 million under the cap.
Finally, the Jaguars should cut bait with QB Blake Bortles. But they should wait to do so until after June 1st. That'll save the team $9.3 million against the cap, which will set them up for the future and could allow the team to extend Yannick Ngakoue and/or Myles Jack — both of whom are entering contract seasons in 2019 — before the season gets underway.
The Jaguars cap situation is obviously not ideal at this point, but it's more than manageable. If the Jaguars follow my blueprint here, they can easily acquire a veteran QB in free agency and even add a big-time offensive weapon at receiver or tight end via free agency/trade.
Let us know your thoughts on the Jaguars salary cap situation in the comments below.
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