Key Dates to Know for the Jaguars’ Roster Before Free Agency Begins

John Shipley

Free agency is just a few weeks away, and the entire NFL is once again gearing up for an unpredictable period in which major contracts are handed out, landscapes change, and teams set their destiny moving forward. 

But before free agency opens on Mar. 18, there are a few other key dates that teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars must keep a close eye on. Whether it is the decision to pick up a team option or place the all-important franchise or transition tag on a player, important deadlines are quickly approaching. 

What are a few key dates coming up soon for the Jaguars as general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone attempt to reshape the roster? We identified three:

DT Marcell Dareus

One of the biggest dates coming up for the Jaguars as they try to clear up some cap space is the deadline for veteran defensive tackle Marcell Dareus' 2020 team option. The option must be exercised between Feb. 3 - Feb. 25, so a decision will have to be made on Dareus in the next few days. If the option is exercised, Dareus will be guaranteed $19.5 million, an astronomical figure for a cap-strapped Jaguars team. If the Jaguars choose to let Dareus hit free agency, the decision will come no later than next Tuesday. 

DE Yannick Ngakoue

Another key date for the Jaguars moving forward is the period in which the Jaguars can place the franchise or transition tag on veteran defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue is seeking a big-money deal after his rookie contract expired, and other teams are permitted to contact him on Mar. 16. If the Jaguars can't reach a long-term deal with Ngakoue before then, they could place the franchise or transition tag on Ngakoue from Feb. 25 - Mar. 10, before he is even able to hit the market. Jacksonville would then have until June 15 to make a long-term deal happen, or else Ngakoue would have to play on the one-year tender.

LB Jake Ryan

If linebacker Jake Ryan is on the Jaguars' roster in 2020, he will have the 12th-highest cap hit on the team ($5.75 million). He has an option the Jaguars could opt to exercise or not which would grant him $1 million in guaranteed money. The Jaguars have until Feb. 24 to make a decision on Ryan's option, so a decision on his future is coming in a few days, just as a decision is coming on Dareus. 

The Jaguars will, of course, be looking at other roster moves before the Mar. 18 free agency cycle begins, but none have strict deadlines like the option or a tag. The Jaguars would have to make these decisions by Mar. 18, or even before Mar. 16, due to the nature of needing enough cap flexibility to participate in free agency. The Jaguars also need to make room if they want to place a tag on Ngakoue, so they will need to potentially make moves by the Mar. 10 deadline as well.