JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars declined to pick up the option on defensive tackle Marcell Dareus' contract on Tuesday, a move that creates $20 million in salary-cap space.
The Jaguars had until Tuesday to pick up or decline Dareus' option year in 2020. Had they picked up the option, Dareus' $9.5 million base salary in 2020 would have been fully guaranteed and he would have been due a $10 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year (March 22).
Not picking up the option means the Jaguars will have to absorb $2.5 million in dead money.
The Jaguars acquired Dareus midway through the 2017 season in a trade with Buffalo, sending a sixth-round pick in 2018 to the Bills in exchange for the two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All Pro. Dareus immediately became the key to the Jaguars' run defense. Since the start of the 2017 season, the Jaguars gave up 109.1 yards per game rushing with Dareus in the lineup (30 games) and 153.2 yards per game rushing when he was not (18 games, including the first seven of the 2017 season when he was with the Bills).
Dareus agreed to restructure his contract after the 2018 season, a move that helped the Jaguars save $5 million in salary-cap space and lowered his base salary to $2.835 million. The restructured deal also eliminated the final year of his old contract (2021) and pushed his cap figure to $22.5 million in 2020.
"To be honest with you, when we did the deal last year we knew it'd be a long shot [for him to be back in 2020] and it was really just to pro-rate some of the signing bonus that we did last year for him," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said. "He would still be a guy that we'd have interest in bringing back at some point in time."
Dareus missed 10 games in 2019 because of a core muscle injury and totaled 45 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 30 games with the Jaguars. He also had eight tackles (four for loss) and two sacks in the Jaguars' run to the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 season.
Buffalo drafted Dareus third overall in 2011 and he reached the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014 and was a first-team All-Pro in 2014 after recording a career-high 10 sacks.