Caldwell on Dareus restructuring: “A very unselfish move…”

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Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (99) lines up against the New York Jets in an NFL game Sunday, September 30, 2018 in Jacksonville, Fla. (Rick Wilson via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Jaguars’ cap situation is manageable.

That was true before defensive tackle Marcell Dareus did what he did earlier this week, but Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell on Wednesday said Dareus’ actions certainly helped.

“It was a very unselfish move,” Caldwell said Wednesday during his media availability at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Dareus, who will enter his ninth NFL season next season and who joined the Jaguars in a midseason trade from Buffalo in 2017, restructured his contract Monday – a move that ensures he will remain with the team in 2019. The deal reportedly clears $5 million of cap space for the Jaguars for 2019.

“I am excited,” said Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone, Dareus’ head coach with the Jaguars in 2017-2018 and with the Bills in 2013-2014. “I spoke to him. He is excited. I am glad we are together. I told him in the beginning that I started with him and I want to be with him as we work our way through this next season.”

Dareus, a two-time Pro Bowl selection with Buffalo in 2013-2014, started 15 games last season and registered 32 tackles with a sack, a forced fumble, a pass defensed and three tackles for loss.

Caldwell said Dareus approached the Jaguars about the restructuring.

“Kudos to Marcell,’’ Caldwell said. “He actually came to us on that and said, ‘Hey, you know what? I want to stay here. I want to be a part of it. I see what we are doing defensively.’

“It was a very unselfish move by Marcell for what he did to say, ‘I want to be able to keep this team together and the guys in that locker room around me together and still build this team.’ He loves playing here; he and Coach Marrone have a special relationship.”

“That put us in good position and going into free agency we feel like we have a lot of maneuverability.”

This offseason marks the first time in Caldwell’s tenure the Jaguars have faced pressing salary-cap issues. But while the team currently projects to be over the cap at the March 13 start of the NFL League year, that situation will be remedied with reworked contracts and the departure of some veteran players.

“Right now, we are fine,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said Wednesday the Jaguars can still be active in free agency when it begins on March 13.

“We can be really aggressive,” Caldwell said.

In other Jaguars contract news, Caldwell said the team has yet to decide “one way or the other” on long-term extensions for cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Both players were selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, making this the first offseason the players can renegotiate long-term deals with the team.

“The plan is to put the best team that we can on the field,” Caldwell said of negotiations for the two players. “We will get through free agency, we will get through the draft and then we will see where we are at. Nothing is decided one way or another on that aspect.”

Caldwell said the team has decided to pick up the option on Ramsey’s contract for the 2020 season. Because Ramsey was a first-round selection, the team has the option to secure his contract for that season; it also still has the option to negotiate a long-term deal.

Caldwell on Wednesday also addressed the team’s decision to decline the option on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ contract, saying the decision was injury-related. Seferian-Jenkins signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in the 2018 offseason and missed the last 11 games following core-muscle surgery.

Seferian-Jenkins will become a free agent on March 13, though Caldwell said the team left open with Seferian-Jenkins the option of returning.

“We weren’t sure he was going to be able to come back 100 percent right away,” Caldwell said. “I talked to Austin and said that we would leave the door open. Although we didn’t exercise the option, there could be potential to bring him back at some point in time.”

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