MOBILE, Ala. – An opportunity is at hand.
That's how David Caldwell sees the coming months – and because of that, it's easy for the Jaguars' longtime general manager to describe how he feels about the 2020 offseason.
"Excited, energized, ready to go," Caldwell said.
Caldwell spoke early Tuesday morning at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel, headquarters of the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl. The event in a sense is the NFL's offseason kickoff, and Caldwell – entering his eighth season with the Jaguars – is kicking off a key offseason that figures to reshape the organization, or at least be a first step toward that end.
The Jaguars must make decisions regarding multiple high-profile veterans, and they must address the contract situation of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. They also hold three of the first 42 selections in the April 2020 NFL Draft, making this the first of two critical drafts for the franchise.
"It's really exciting, looking at what we have – the pieces we can fill with our extra draft capital," Caldwell said. "I've never had this type of draft capital – not only here, but in my career. We're excited to use that and see what we can do with it."
The Jaguars hold not only their own first- and second-round selections – Nos. 9 and 42 overall – but also the No. 20 overall selection of Round 1. The latter first-round selection was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
The Jaguars also hold the Rams' first-round selection in next year's draft, meaning they will have six first- and second-round selections in a 13-month span.
"If you can get three good starters out of that and fill some needs at value positions, that's something that can really set this franchise up for a long period of time," Caldwell said.
Caldwell, speaking Tuesday morning before the first day of Senior Bowl practice, praised this year's draft class – and added that it's absolutely a good year to be selecting early and often.
"There are a lot of good players," Caldwell said. "Every time I start evaluating a player, I'm like, 'This guy can play, this guy can play, this guy can play.'''
The Jaguars, who have gone 5-11 and 6-10 the past two seasons after their 10-6 AFC South Championship season in 2017, lost six of their last eight games last season. They enter the offseason needing to make salary-cap-based decisions on the futures of at least three key veteran defensive players – end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus – as well as wide receiver Marqise Lee, perhaps offensive linemen such as guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder and linebacker Jake Ryan.
Those decisions will come in the next six-to-eight weeks, with unrestricted free agency and the NFL's 2020 League year beginning March 18. Specific to Campbell, Caldwell said there are discussions within the defensive staff about his role moving forward and how he will be used.
"We still feel like he has football left ahead of him," Caldwell said.
Ngakoue is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18. Caldwell on Tuesday reiterated what he said immediately following the season – that the team "would love to have him back." Caldwell said the next step is to communicate with Ngakoue and his representation, and that Owner Shad Khan and Tony Khan likely will be involved in the process.
"It's a deal that we feel like could take a little bit of time but should be done hopefully relatively easily," Caldwell said.
Both Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone during their joint season-ending press conference talked about coaching and personnel working together more efficiently with better communication moving forward. That came two weeks after Khan dismissed Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, and immediately after Khan announced that Caldwell and Marrone would be retained in 2020.
Caldwell said the communication this offseason this far has "probably been a little more inclusive with different staff members, other assistant coaches and personnel staff – a little more inclusive, a little more open dialogue."
"It's been very positive," Caldwell said. "Coach Marrone is obviously open to new ideas and very flexible with the organization aspect. We've had some good group meetings and some good open discussions on our current roster and our roster moving forward. It's been good."