The Jacksonville Jaguars have less projected salary cap space entering 2020 free agency than all but two NFL teams, and it appears they won’t be sparing many big names while trying to free up money this offseason.
Answering fan questions earlier this month, Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser indicated that Pro Bowl defenders A.J. Bouye and Marcell Dareus are likely to be among a handful of the team’s veteran cuts ahead of free agency.
“I do believe there is a better chance of Jaguars left guard Andrew Norwell returning next season than players such as wide receiver Marqise Lee, linebacker Jake Ryan, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, cornerback A.J. Bouye, etc.,” Oehser wrote in response to an inquiry about Norwell’s future with the team. “I expect the latter four to be released for salary-cap reasons, but Norwell is unknown.”
Norwell, 28, is only two years removed from signing a five-year, $66.5 million contract with the Jaguars but would save Jacksonville $5.5 million in 2020 if he’s released. Bouye and Dareus are set to cost the Jags even more next season, with the former due $15.4 million and the latter owed $22.5 million — the highest total on the roster and almost $1 million more than quarterback Nick Foles.
Dareus has long been an obvious cut candidate, not only because of his high cap hit but because the ex-Buffalo Bills standout has missed 18 games in his three years in Jacksonville. Ditto for Lee, the former second-round draft pick who’s due $8.75 million in 2020 but has only once played a full season and mustered just three catches in six games in 2019.
Bouye, on the other hand, would easily mark the Jaguars’ highest-profile cut if he’s sent to the open market. A coveted free agent back in 2017, when he inked a five-year, $67.5 million deal to start opposite Jalen Ramsey, the 28-year-old corner has both Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors on his resume. He’s also just a few years removed from a six-interception season, during which he helped the Jags reach the AFC Championship. Bouye has just two picks since, but he’s had steady numbers and would offer prospective suitors more than 60 games of starting experience. If released, he’d save the Jags roughly $11.4 million in 2020.
Jacksonville, which parted ways with personnel executive Tom Coughlin in December, is projected to be about $1 million over the cap entering the offseason, meaning they’ll have to either restructure current contracts or get some off the books in order to spend.
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