JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It appears the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to be without one of their top defensive players for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis — but they may be betting their top offensive player back, too.
Cornerback A.J. Bouye politely declined an interview request on Wednesday by saying he wasn’t going to play against the Colts because of his calf injury. Bouye was hurt against Houston on Oct. 20 and missed the Jaguars’ game against Philadelphia in London the following week.
However, coach Doug Marrone said “that’s news to me” when told of Bouye’s comment before the Jaguars hit the practice field.
“I guess I’ll have to talk to him about that,” Marrone said. “That’s not what the trainer told me. He did say that? OK, we will take care of that. That’s not been told to me by the trainer. That’s the truth.”
Bouye is tied for the team lead with five pass breakups and has one interception. He led the Jaguars with 18 pass breakups and six interceptions last season, which earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl and on the All-Pro second team.
Marrone did get some good news on Wednesday, though, because running back Leonard Fournette practiced fully for the first time since he aggravated his right hamstring injury in Week 4. Marrone did not say whether that meant Fournette would play against Indianapolis, but it’s clearly a good sign for the player around which the Jaguars built the offense.
Marrone said the team will not limit Fournette if he is able to play.
“We are full-boring everybody,” Marrone said. “Once a guy is ready to play, that has to be our expectation. I think you get into trouble when you put a player on the field and he is not able to live up to the expectation that you have for him meaning that all of a sudden now if something happens, it’s kind of like a built-in excuse. That’s the way I’ve always viewed it. I have always told players [if someone says], ‘I’m going to go out there, but I don’t feel like whatever …’ What does that mean? If they say, ‘I’m not 100 percent, I can’t do what’s expected of me.’ Well, then, I can’t put him on the field.”
Fournette originally hurt his right hamstring late in the first half of the season opener against the New York Giants and missed the next two games. He returned against the New York Jets in Week 4 and ran 11 times for 30 yards and caught one pass for 5 yards before aggravating the injury.
RENTON, Wash. — Paul Allen’s love was basketball, and he delved into professional football out of loyalty to his hometown Seattle.
In the wake of his death Monday from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Allen’s ownership of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and NFL’s Seattle Seahawks has come into focus because of questions about how the franchises will move forward in his absence.
No one is providing many details yet about the succession plans for Allen’s franchise holdings. His primary franchises were the Blazers and Seahawks, although he also owned a small stake in Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders.
“Paul thoughtfully addressed how the many institutions he founded and supported would continue after he was no longer able to lead them. This isn’t the time to deal in those specifics as we focus on Paul’s family,” according to a statement from Allen’s company, Vulcan Inc. “We will continue to work on furthering Paul’s mission and the projects he entrusted to us. There are no changes imminent for Vulcan, the teams, the research institutes or museums.”
For now, Allen’s teams will continue to be overseen by Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, an arm of the company he created. His sister, Jody Allen, and executive Bert Kolde were the other members of the Seahawks’ board of directors with Allen. Jody Allen may take a more prominent role with the NFL franchise going forward.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s time to be engaging in that conversation. We’re more into the conversation about recognizing what took place and how to respect Paul and his desires and all of that,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday. “There’s plenty of time to talk about all that stuff. It’s not even a factor in our minds. I understand the interest but there will be plenty of time.
“Nothing is changing. Paul wouldn’t want us to do anything different than what we’re doing, which is to go for it and to represent it every way we can until you can’t. And we’re going to go for it just in that fashion.”
A similar message was being relayed in Portland, where Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey and Vulcan Sports and Entertainment CEO Chris McGowan spoke about Allen. The Trail Blazers are dealing with the death of Allen just a couple of days before beginning the regular season at home against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“At this point we’re just dealing with the death and we don’t have any imminent announcements,” McGowan said. “At an appropriate time I’m sure we’ll come and talk with everyone about what potentially could happen, but right now we’re just dealing with the grief.”
Olshey said his final phone conversation with Allen was in early October, with the owner asking if the Blazers GM was watching that night’s preseason games.
“He wanted to talk basketball,” Olshey said. “One of the things that is really unique about Paul is that everything was bifurcated. … If he wanted to talk hoops, he talked hoops. If he wanted to talk music, he called Mick Jagger. If he wanted to talk football, he called Pete Carroll. Who else gets that?”
The Seattle Seahawks have already announced the firings of their top four assistant coaches, including their two coordinators, plus a mutual parting of ways with a fifth. A few others are not expected to return as a result of the biggest overhaul of Pete Carroll’s staff since he took over as head coach in 2010.
A similarly drastic retooling of the roster could follow in the wake of a 9-7 finish that snapped Seattle’s string of five straight playoff appearances. That’s the belief among some observers and at least a few of the players themselves.
“I definitely think there’s going to be some player changes,” defensive lineman Michael Bennett recently told Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle.
There are always changes to a team’s roster from one year to the next, but Bennett was talking about big changes involving big-name players.
In response to Bennett on the possibility of a significant roster shake-up, tight end Luke Willson told the same station, “I would agree. Hopefully I’m not part of that turnover. I guess we’ll find out soon.”
Willson is one of 16 Seahawks scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. That group also includes tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Paul Richardson, among other starters. We’ll examine their situations in the coming weeks as free agency draws nearer.
Here is a look at three other longtime Seahawks who are under contract but may not be back in 2018 for reasons including age, health, salary and/or other contractual dynamics. Like Chancellor and Avril, they’ve been key members of a Seahawks defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL from 2012 to 2015 but slipped to third and then a tie for 13th over the past two seasons.
FS Earl Thomas
Age: Turns 29 in May
Contract status: Entering the final year of a four-year, $40 million extension
Recent comments from Thomas to ESPN set the stage for a potential holdout in the absence of a multiyear extension at his desired price. We can safely assume that price at least matches, if not tops, the $13 million average of Eric Berry‘s latest deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, which he signed last offseason to become the NFL’s highest-paid safety. Thomas, coming off his sixth Pro Bowl appearance and arguably the most important player to Seattle’s defense, would be well within reason to ask for that type of compensation. The Seahawks would be well within reason to balk given the inherent risk of making that large of a financial commitment to a player who is approaching 30 and has missed seven games over the past two seasons because of three injuries. An impasse could lead the Seahawks to shop Thomas in trade talks like they did under much different circumstances with Sherman last offseason. Thomas is a once-in-a-generation player, but if he digs his heels in and if another team makes Seattle a worthwhile offer, pulling the trigger on a trade wouldn’t be out of the question even if it wouldn’t make the Seahawks better right away.
CB Richard Sherman
Age: Turns 30 in March
Contract status: Entering the final year of a four-year, $56 million extension
Sherman, like Thomas, is one of the most iconic players in franchise history. He was again playing at an All-Pro level when his season ended in November because of a ruptured Achilles. He has a good chance at being ready by the start of next season based on the typical recovery period for that injury. It should be noted that he appeared to hit the reset button during an incident-free season after a tumultuous 2016 that included a pair of sideline blowups toward coaches. All of that could work in favor of Seattle bringing Sherman back in 2018, especially because his injury figures to severely diminish his trade value. On the other hand, there are no guarantees with injuries as significant as Sherman’s. He also carries a 2018 salary-cap charge of $13.2 million with only $2.2 million in dead money, meaning the Seahawks could save a whopping $11 million if they were to cut him. They could wait to make any decision on Sherman until after free agency and the draft, which would allow them to assess their cornerback situation and Sherman’s health first.
DL Michael Bennett
Age: Turns 33 in November
Contract status: Signed through 2020 on a three-year, $30.5 million extension
It was only 14 months ago that Seattle gave Bennett a new contract that came with a raise he had been seeking since 2015, but the possibility of the Seahawks releasing him seems real despite that. He even acknowledged as much at season’s end, telling The News Tribune that he “probably won’t be back next year.” It’s not as though Bennett’s 2017 season was a disappointment. Yes, he continued to struggle with penalties, as did the Seahawks as a team. But Bennett remained a disruptive force when he wasn’t jumping offside. He finished second on the team with 8.5 sacks and again led Seattle’s defensive linemen in snaps — by a wide margin — despite playing with foot and knee injuries.
The Seahawks would incur a little over $5.2 million in dead-money charges by releasing Bennett because it’s so early in his extension. The cap savings would be just under $2.2 million, which is not much. That coupled with the strong possibility that Avril won’t be able to play again — or is released before that determination is made — could lead the Seahawks to give Bennett another season. It’s also conceivable that they bite the salary-cap bullet and move on from Bennett now with an eye toward avoiding the possibility of his age and further injury leading to a rapid decline in his effectiveness. If the Seahawks do release Bennett, expect it to happen before he’s owed a $3 million roster bonus in March.