Trevor Lawrence

Jaguars’ Shad Khan To Control Roster, No. 1 Pick

The Jaguars’ next GM will have a tremendous opportunity to help rebuild the franchise. However, owner Shad Khan says that he will continue to have final say over the roster, draft, and all personnel matters.

I kept the roster control and…the general manager candidates, I’ve been talking to them, that for the immediate future I’m going to keep the roster control,” Khan said (via Michael Lombardi of The Athletic). “And I want the coach to know that also. What’s evaded the history of the Jags, really, has been a franchise quarterback. We have the ability now to make a choice, and it’s going to define the franchise moving forward.”

Of course, Khan probably won’t have to think too hard about the No. 1 overall pick. The Jaguars are almost certain to select Clemson superstar Trevor Lawrence, who may be the best draft-eligible quarterback since Andrew Luck. Lawrence, to the surprise of no one, officially declared earlier this week.

Khan may keep control, but he’s not expected to be an all-out babysitter of his next GM. So far, their candidate pool includes former Browns general manager Ray Farmer, Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, former Giants GM Jerry Reese, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, and former Texans general manager Rick Smith. For the latest on the Jags and other GM-less teams, check out our 2021 NFL GM Search Tracker.

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Trevor Lawrence Declares For 2021 NFL Draft

No surprise here. On Wednesday, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence formally declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

I’ll look back at these three years and have the best memories,” Lawrence said (Twitter link). “I really feel like I’m a man now and I’m ready to take on those challenges. Just super excited for life ahead. The best is always yet to come, but I’m grateful for Clemson and I’m going to miss it.

As the projected No. 1 overall pick, Lawrence long seemed ticketed for the Jets. But, with some late-season signs of life, the Jets ceded the league’s cellar to the Jaguars. There are other noteworthy passers in this class — including Ohio State’s Justin Fields — but none compare to Lawrence, who is viewed as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck.

“Looking back on it, I hope my legacy is that I was a great teammate and a great person overall, more than how I played,” Lawrence said. “It’s how I treated people. I want that to be the main thing I’m known for.”

Lawrence threw for 3,153 yards with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions in his final season. And, with 69.2% of his passes completed, he finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, despite losing time to injury. The Jaguars will explore other prospects for the No. 1 overall pick, but it would be a stunner to see them take anyone other than Lawrence.

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Extra Points: 2021 Cap, Glennon, Fields

When the NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement earlier this year to play the 2021 season under unprecedented circumstances, it was settled that the 2021 salary cap would be no lower than $175MM. That still would’ve been a steep drop from the $198.2MM figure for 2020. Fortunately for the players, it looks like the NFLPA could avoid that doomsday scenario and then some, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. A source told Florio that the prospect of stadiums full of fans looking better for 2021 has the league office feeling a little more generous.

Florio writes that the “potential of a return to something normal or close to it” for 2021 could end up having the league keep the cap “in the range” of $195MM, which would mean practically no drop at all. Of course, with the ever-changing nature of COVID-19 and the current environment, there’s still a lot left to be determined. As Florio notes, the league won’t make its final decision until late February or early March, so there’s still plenty of time for things to change. This will be an interesting storyline to monitor as the offseason approaches.

Here’s more from around the league as Week 13 winds down:

  • Mike Glennon and the Jaguars came up just short of a huge upset when they lost in overtime to the Vikings, but he apparently did enough to keep the job for another week. Glennon will start for Jacksonville in Week 14, head coach Doug Marrone said after the game. Glennon moved the ball decently against Minnesota, but turned the ball over three times. That still wasn’t enough for Marrone to turn back to Gardner Minshew. “I think he still gives us the best chance to win as of right now so I’m going to stick with him right now for this week,” Marrone said, per John Oehser of the team’s official site. As you can see, Marrone certainly didn’t commit to him for the rest of the season and it wouldn’t be surprising if Minshew gets the call at any time. The 1-11 Jags have lost 11 in a row, although four of their last five losses have been by four points or fewer. Glennon, Minshew, and sixth-round rookie Jake Luton have all started multiple games in this disastrous campaign.
  • Speaking of the Jags, they are one of several teams likely to be looking for a quarterback in the first-round of this coming April’s draft. It’s looking like an excellent class of passers, with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields clearly at the top. While they’re considered by many to be the top two picks in the draft, Lawrence will be “graded significantly higher” by scouts than Fields, Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com writes. That probably won’t surprise you, but what Pauline said next might. The long-time draft insider writes that Fields will grade higher on teams’ boards than 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow. The only reason Lawrence will be clearly ahead of Fields is since Lawrence is viewed as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. If Fields is going to be considered a better pro prospect than the highly touted Burrow, getting the second overall pick instead of first might not be that bad for Jacksonville or whoever else.

Latest On Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence

Clemson star Trevor Lawrence says he’s still undecided on whether to enter the 2021 NFL Draft, as ESPN.com’s David M. Hale writes. Meanwhile, NFL executives tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter that they have no doubt about Lawrence’s future plans. 

You have a better chance of winning the Boston Marathon than he does of going back to school,” one source told Schefter.

Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney recently expressed similar sentiments, admitting that he’d “be surprised” if Lawrence, the projected No. 1 pick, returns to campus next year. For his part, Lawrence says he isn’t interested in discussing his plans any further, noting that he wants to enjoy the rest of the year and focus on his return to the field.

Clemson managed to beat Boston College without Lawrence under center but they came up short in Saturday’s thriller against Notre Dame. The good news is that Lawrence is set to return after completing the NCAA’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Jets and Jaguars are keeping a watchful eye on Lawrence, who has been hailed as a generational talent.

I’ve honestly never seen anything like him,” one NFL quarterbacks coach told Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller this week. “You’ve seen guys with a bigger arm, and you’ve seen guys who are faster, but I’ve never seen a prospect who has every trait you need and has them at a high level.”

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Trevor Lawrence Tests Positive For COVID-19

Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence has tested positive for COVID-19, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). Lawrence, who projects as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, will be out of action for Saturday’s game at Boston College. His availability beyond this week will hinge on his condition and forthcoming tests.

[RELATED: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle Done For Year]

A two-time starter in national championship games, Lawrence took the reins for the Tigers midway through his freshman season in 2018. The former five-star recruit has been on the No. 1 overall pick radar ever since. Between ’18 and ’19, the 6-foot-6 passer threw an eye-popping 66 touchdown against just 12 interceptions. As a sophomore, Lawrence became a key rushing presence for the ACC power, gaining 563 yards on the ground and scoring nine TDs.

Recently, the QB surprised many by saying that he might consider returning for another season.

My mindset has been that I’m going to move on, but who knows? There’s a lot of things that could happen,” Lawrence said Tuesday during his media session. “… We’ll just have to see how things unfold. There’s a lot of factors in that. But honestly, just really playing this year. Putting everything I have into it. Not really focusing on next year whether I leave or stay. Obviously, I have the option to do either one.”

Meanwhile, head coach Dabo Swinney expects to lose his star player to the pros.

I mean, we’ll certainly let him stay if that’s what he wants to do. I’d be surprised if he’s back with the Tigers next year, but who knows?,” Swinney said earlier today, before the news of the positive test (Twitter link via Rich Cimini of ESPN).

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Trevor Lawrence No Longer Certain To Declare For 2021 Draft

The most coveted quarterback prospect since at least Andrew Luck, Trevor Lawrence may be having second thoughts about leaving school early and becoming the 2021 No. 1 overall pick. At least, he wants to now keep his options open.

Lawrence said before the start of his junior season he would leave Clemson after the 2020 slate and enter the 2021 draft. Now? That is not a certainty.

My mindset has been that I’m going to move on, but who knows? There’s a lot of things that could happen,” Lawrence said Tuesday during his media session. “… We’ll just have to see how things unfold. There’s a lot of factors in that. But honestly, just really playing this year. Putting everything I have into it. Not really focusing on next year whether I leave or stay. Obviously, I have the option to do either one.”

This will be interpreted as the 6-foot-6 quarterback feeling uneasy about the prospect of playing for the Jets, who are 0-7. The Jets drafted Sam Darnold third overall in 2018 and have seen him regress this season. The franchise did not get it right with Mark Sanchez at No. 5 overall in 2009 either. And a return to school after being expected to declare and go No. 1 to the Jets would not be unprecedented. Peyton Manning returned to Tennessee in 1997, when the Jets held the No. 1 pick. They then traded down and did not draft a first-round quarterback until Chad Pennington in 2000.

However, there are six one-win teams — the Giants, Falcons, Vikings, Jaguars, Texans and Bengals — who have also emerged in the early portion of the #TankforTrevor pursuit. Of those, only the Bengals and Texans boast QB situations that would point to them trading the pick. While the Lawrence race is far from over, it certainly is notable the quarterback has backtracked from being a surefire entrant in the 2021 draft.

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Trevor Lawrence To Enter Draft After 2020 Season

Certainly not a shocking development, Clemson will not have its superstar quarterback for four seasons. The near-consensus projected No. 1 overall pick next year will indeed be available to teams in 2021.

Trevor Lawrence confirmed during an appearance on ESPN’s College Gameday he will enter the 2021 draft after his junior season. The Lawrence sweepstakes will certainly be a key talking point as the 2020 NFL season progresses. Although several other first-round talents have opted out of the 2020 college season, Lawrence does not plan to do so.

A two-time starter in national championship games, Lawrence took the QB reins for the Tigers midway through his freshman season in 2018. The former five-star recruit has been on the No. 1 overall pick radar since that season. In 30 career games, the 6-foot-6 passer has thrown 66 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. As a sophomore, Lawrence became a key rushing presence for the ACC power, gaining 563 yards on the ground and scoring nine TDs.

The Jaguars enter 2020 as the early clubhouse leaders for the Georgia native, according to Betonline.ag, and they have acted accordingly by stripping their roster of key veterans. Washington and Carolina also profile as potential landing spots, with other teams surely set to be connected to the prized prospect as the NFL season progresses. A non-quarterback-needy team holding the pick would be in position to collect quite the haul from a team eyeing the long-sought-after passer.

Lawrence has until early next year to officially declare. He could use a potential fourth Clemson season as leverage, depending on which NFL team ends the season holding the No. 1 overall pick. But that would certainly present an injury risk — in a now-less certain college football environment. But as of now, Lawrence plans to be part of next year’s draft.

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Draft Notes: Lawrence, Saints, LBs

Carolina may end up losing Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen, Trai Turner, Dontari Poe, James Bradberry, Mario Addison and perhaps Cam Newton this offseason. Rebuild vibes are certainly coming out of Panthers headquarters, and many around the league expect this to be the team that times its rebuild/tanks for Trevor Lawrence, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes. The Clemson phenom has been on NFL radars pretty much since he debuted as a true freshman in 2018, and the much-hyped quarterback will be eligible for the 2021 draft. The Panthers are already believed to be high on Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields — passers who could go Nos. 1-2 next year — and have Matt Rhule signed to a seven-year contract. This would add up to a rebuild commencing, which will make Carolina’s decision at No. 7 this year overall more interesting.

Here is the latest from the draft world, shifting first to the Saints:

  • Since Michael Thomas has emerged as an All-Pro talent, the Saints have been unable to generate much consistency from any of his supporting-cast receivers. A “strong campaign” has emerged within the organization to find a complementary wideout to pair with Thomas, Miller adds. Considering the Saints’ cap situation — barely $9MM in space before the latest Drew Brees re-up — said addition would likely come in the early rounds of this loaded receiver draft. Miller’s latest mock has the Saints taking Clemson deep threat Tee Higgins, but a number of wideouts could be in play for New Orleans at No. 24.
  • A shaky Combine showing has defensive end A.J. Epenesa‘s stock declining, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. Some teams have expressed concern about the Iowa product’s showing, which included a 5.04-second 40-yard dash — at 275 pounds — and limited athleticism during the drills. Epenesa declared for the draft after his junior year with the Hawkeyes, and he recorded double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons. ESPN’s Todd McShay still has Epenesa as a late-first-round pick, citing his run-defending ability and potential as a power rusher.
  • Linebackers Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen suffered injuries at the Combine, but both appear on track to recover fairly soon. Both ‘backers sustained the setbacks during their respective second 40 attempts. Queen suffered merely a tweaked hamstring, while Murray also appears to have dodged a serious hamstring injury (Twitter links via Miller and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Queen and Murray are expected to be first- or second-round selections.

Latest On Panthers, Cam Newton

Set to be without longtime cornerstones Luke Kuechly and Greg Olsen next season, the Panthers will soon need to make a decision on their quarterback. Some parts of that equation are forming.

Cam Newton is recovering from foot surgery and has yet to resume football activities. But the former MVP went through a meeting with Matt Rhule, David Tepper and GM Marty Hurney recently and “absolutely” expects to be a Panther next season, he said during an interview on CBS Sports’ Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber (video link).

While Newton admitted he is disappointed by Ron Rivera being out of the picture but is moving forward with the new regime. One season, at an affordable $18.6MM salary, remains on Newton’s deal. The Panthers could save $19.1MM and potentially accelerate a rebuild by moving on from the 30-year-old passer, but they have not ruled out the prospect of allowing him to play out his contract. They were, however, non-committal about the injured quarterback last month.

The Panthers want to see Newton resume football work in March before making a decision, Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com report. Hurney and his new power structure partners would prefer to give Newton a shot and assess the situation at that point. Picking at No. 7, the Panthers are an unrealistic Joe Burrow destination. The Panthers are higher on potential 2021 early-first-round quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields than the non-Burrow 2020 quarterback contingent, per Fowler and Graziano. The Clemson and Ohio State passers, respectively, will generate immense buzz over the next year. It will almost certainly take premium draft position to land either.

Given the early developments in Carolina’s offseason, it would not be especially surprising to see the team trade Newton. However, the former Pro Bowler has a manageable salary thanks to his extension being signed back in 2015. Regardless, Newton represents a key domino in an offseason that will feature several significant quarterback decisions.

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Extra Points: Lawrence, Mumphery, Packers

If it’s too early to think about the 2020 NFL Draft, then it’s definitely too early to think about the 2021 draft. Still, that’s not stopping those in the football world from daydreaming about Trevor Lawrence and his potential.

There’s nothing he can’t do,” said former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer when asked about the Clemson quarterback (via The MMQB). “The only question is if he’ll continue to do it. It’s hard to temper your excitement, because he checks every single box. Confidence, intelligence, athleticism, smarts, twitch, arm strength, power—you go through all the boxes, he’s nines or 10s. It’s like Andrew Luck.”

Lawrence, who has been termed “perfect” by mechanics coach Jordan Palmer, likely would’ve been the first pick in either this year’s draft or the 2020 draft, if he were eligible. If he declares after his true junior season at Clemson, he’s expected to be the slam dunk No. 1 pick in 2021.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Wide receiver Keith Mumphery received $725K from Michigan State in a lawsuit settlement, as Paula Lavigne of ESPN.com writes. Mumphery was cut by the Texans in 2017 after reports surfaced that he had been banned from campus following a sexual assault accusation. Mumphery always insisted he was falsely accused, and sued Michigan State for his lost wages. The settlement will help him recoup some of those potential earnings and may help his cause as he tries to mount an NFL comeback.
  • After a disappointing season and significant spending spree, the Packers‘ profits have dropped dramatically (via The Associated Press). The good news, however, is that the Packers still turned a profit after re-signing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and signing linebacker Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos, and guard Billy Smith. Ultimately, it’s an indication that the Packers are in good fiscal standing despite being a small market team.