By Hays Carlyon
The Jaguars are going after the Lombardi Trophy.
That was the message sent by Jaguars personnel chief Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone on Friday. The Jaguars traded a conditional sixth-round pick in 2018 for Buffalo two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
I love this move.
The Jaguars (4-3) already have the fiercest defense in the NFL with 33 sacks and 10 interceptions.
The lone issue heading into the bye week was the run defense.
The 27-year-old Dareus will likely supplant Abry Jones in the starting lineup. That creates a line on base downs of the following: Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Dareus and Yannick Ngakoue.
In nickel, Dante Fowler checks in opposite Ngakoue and Campbell, Jackson and Dareus can split the two positions inside. This will help keep Campbell and Jackson fresh over the course of the season.
Jones remains a reliable back-up to Dareus.
Houston, you have a problem. You too, Tennessee and Indianapolis.
The Jaguars defensive line is monstrous.
Dareus posted 17.5 sacks in 2013-14 when Marrone was coaching the Bills. He was willing to take the risk on Dareus, who has character concerns. This locker room featuring Campbell, linebacker Telvin Smith, safety Barry Church and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye should make for a smooth transition for Dareus with their leadership and talent combined.
This should be a trade Dareus welcomes. The former Alabama standout is going to a first-place team in warm weather and joining an elite defense with a coach he knows.
The Jaguars don’t need Dareus to provide impressive sack totals. That would be a bonus. They need the 331-pound Dareus to dominate in the run game.
Dareus is now the team’s highest-paid player with a contract signed in 2015 that is huge: six years, $96.5 million with $60 million guaranteed.
Don’t be alarmed. The Jaguars can get out of the contract with no dead money on their salary cap after the 2018 season.
These are the moves you have to make.
This deal might end up being a disappointment, but I’ll never criticize it.
This was bold and beautiful.
Finally, the Jaguars are in contention. Don’t be satisfied to merely stay in contention. Go try and win the whole thing.
This was a defense that was showing signs it could carry the team to a playoff run. If Dareus produces at a high level over the next nine games, the defense might be Super-Bowl caliber.
The Jaguars have the best defensive line in the NFL and the best secondary in the NFL.
This could be a really special season.
Take a bow, Coughlin and company.
This blockbuster trade was a stroke of genius.
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).