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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The 2018 season has been a disaster for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Injuries hampered the offense, quarterback Blake Bortles regressed, the defense has been good but not the elite unit many expected despite returning all but one starter, and they failed to win a game in October and November.

The Jaguars are still mathematically alive in the playoff race despite entering Thursday’s game (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox) in Tennessee with a 4-8 record, but they will be eliminated with their next loss. A team that won the AFC South and was 10 minutes away from the Super Bowl last season is now facing a critical offseason.

Significant changes are needed if the Jaguars are going to contend again in 2019. Here are five things the franchise must do in the offseason:

Find a quarterback(s)

The Jaguars have decided to move on from Bortles as their long-term starter, so quarterback should be their No. 1 priority in the draft, but they also should sign a veteran in free agency as long as they can do so at a reasonable price.

That’s assuming the Jaguars release Bortles, though there might be some hesitancy to do so because of the $16.5 million in dead money that would count against the salary cap. That would be the most any team has ever paid in dead money for a single player in NFL history, so the Jaguars might decide keeping Bortles and his $21 million cap figure makes more sense. They would essentially be paying him $4.5 million to be a backup since they’re going to have to pay $16.5 million regardless.

It’s not a great group of free-agent quarterbacks, though. Tyrod Taylor, Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Fitzpatrick top the list. Bridgewater will likely be in high demand and that will drive the price up, so he’s not a quarterback the Jaguars will pursue unless they believe he can be their long-term starter.

There might be some high-profile starters available if they’re cut by their teams, such as Joe Flacco, Jameis Winston, Eli Manning and Nick Foles. Economics might rule those players out because of the Jaguars’ cap situation, so their best option likely will be to draft one in the first round.

Oregon’s Justin Herbert is generally regarded as the best quarterback in the class — provided he decides to forgo his senior season. The Jaguars might have to trade up in order to get him, as well, because the Giants and possibly Oakland — both of whom are currently ahead of the Jaguars in the draft order — could be drafting quarterbacks.

Missouri’s Drew Lock, Duke’s Daniel Jones, NC State’s Ryan Finley, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and West Virginia’s Will Grier are some of the other top quarterback prospects who could be taken in the first few rounds. If the Jaguars opt to bypass quarterback with their first pick, one of these players should be available in the second round.

Whether it’s a free agent, a yet-to-be-released high-profile starter, or a rookie, the Jaguars must have a new starting quarterback in 2019.

Purge bigger salaries to get cap relief

Per ESPN’s Roster Management system, the Jaguars are $19 million over the projected salary cap in 2019 (Philadelphia is the only team also over the projected cap, by $33.5 million), so that means the franchise will have to cut some big-money players loose. Also looming over the team is a potential $16.5 million dead cap hit if they cut Bortles (that drops to $11.5 million after June 1).

Six of the Jaguars’ eight biggest cap figures in 2019 belong to defensive players, including defensive tackle Malik Jackson ($15 million cap figure/$4 million dead money), defensive end Calais Campbell ($14.5 million/$3 million), and nose tackle Marcell Dareus ($10.6 million/no dead money).

Campbell (seven sacks) is still very productive at 32 years old and he’s the high-priced player the Jaguars are most likely to retain, but they might ask him to renegotiate his contract to make it more cap-friendly. Same goes for Dareus, who has been the Jaguars’ best interior lineman all season. Jackson, however, has lost his starting job, so he’s pretty much gone.

The Jaguars also are likely to release safety Barry Church ($6.25 million) and right tackle Jermey Parnell ($6 million) because they have no dead money and the team already has their replacements on the roster (Ronnie Harrison and Ereck Flowers/Will Richardson). Safety Tashaun Gipson ($9.05 million/$1.6 million) and running back Carlos Hyde ($4.75 million/no dead money) also could be gone.

The Jaguars had planned ahead with the 2018 draft for some of these moves by taking defensive tackle Taven Bryan, Harrison and Richardson in the first four rounds.

Cutting Jackson, Campbell, Dareus, Church, Parnell, Gipson and Hyde would save the Jaguars $57.55 million in cap space after the $8.6 million in dead money is factored in. They likely won’t all be cut — keeping Campbell and Dareus would be wise if the Jaguars can re-work their deals — but the Jaguars have to make some tough decisions in the offseason.

Find a couple of playmakers

After quarterback, the most glaring weakness on offense is the lack of playmakers other than Leonard Fournette. Poor quarterback play certainly contributed to the inefficiency, but the fact that defenses sold out to stop the run and didn’t worry about giving up big plays was a factor as well.

Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant are likely leaving in free agency (and Hyde could be cut), so the Jaguars should prioritize adding several players there. They don’t need to invest high draft picks to do it, either. The league is full of impact running backs taken in the fourth round or later: Jay Ajayi (fifth), James White (fourth), Latavius Murray (sixth), Frank Gore (third) and Darren Sproles (fourth). Denver’s Phillip Lindsay is fourth in the NFL in rushing and the Broncos signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent.

The situation at receiver is a little better. Marqise Lee comes back from a severe knee injury and Dede Westbrook has shown flashes of big-play ability. Rookie DJ Chark has had issues with ball security, but he’s also shown he has potential as a downfield threat. Keelan Cole was benched after dropping five passes and fumbling twice in October and his future with the team is shaky, but he still can be a third or fourth receiver.

Tight end is a problem. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has missed most of the season with a sports hernia, is their best blocker and pass-catcher, but he has averaged only 10 yards per catch in his five-year career. It appears to be a very good draft for tight ends, led by Iowa’s Noah Fant and Alabama’s Irv Smith, Jr. The Jaguars failed to draft a tight end in 2018 and cannot make the same mistake in 2019.

Draft an offensive lineman in first three rounds

The Jaguars’ offensive line was ravaged by injuries this season and left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, and center Brandon Linder will be returning from season-ending knee and foot injuries. The team will have to replace right guard A.J. Cann and Parnell, though Flowers or Richardson will have the inside track to be the right tackle.

NFL teams generally don’t have good depth along the offensive line, so a talented rookie would help significantly. Especially an interior player, because Linder, who started his career at guard, has never played a full season and will have missed 26 out of a possible 80 games by the time this season ends.

The Jaguars missed on addressing this area, too, bypassing guard Will Hernandez to add Bryan to a position group that was already the team’s strength. If they’re going to continue to emphasize the power-run game to open up the pass game, then they must not repeat that mistake.

Seriously listen to trade offers regarding Ramsey

Although the team said in a statement that it has zero intention of trading Jalen Ramsey, there’s no harm in listening.

The roster’s biggest holes can’t be fixed in one offseason and the best way to re-stock is through the draft. Ramsey is the most valuable commodity the Jaguars have, and though he likely wouldn’t command what Chicago gave up for Khalil Mack (two firsts, a third-, and a sixth-round pick) the Jaguars might be able to get two first-round picks. That’s two additional impact players (if they make the right picks) — or they could be used as part of a package to move up to be in position to get their choice at quarterback.

An elite cornerback — even one as great as Ramsey is and will become — isn’t necessary to win a Super Bowl. It surely helps, but teams have done it without one. For example, New England’s starting corners in Super Bowl LI were Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler. Good players, but not elite. Philadelphia’s corners in Super Bowl LII were Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Same thing. Quarterbacks and pass-rushers are more important and the Jaguars could use additional picks to acquire one or more.

It’s unlikely the Jaguars will trade Ramsey, but it would be irresponsible not to listen. They might get an offer they can’t refuse.

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Follow live: Playoff implications on the line as Seattle hosts Minnesota

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Russell Wilson looks to extend the Seattle’s three-game winning streak and move the team closer to locking up a wild-card spot.

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Pierre Garcon of San Francisco 49ers to undergo season-ending knee surgery

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For the second time in as many seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, receiver Pierre Garcon will end his season on injured reserve after appearing in just eight games.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that Garcon is set to have arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday and the team will place him on season-ending IR later this week.

Garcon has not played for the Niners since the Week 9 win against the Oakland Raiders because of lingering knee issues that first flared up the week in Week 6.

While Garcon has practiced in the time since and has been hoping to get back on the field, he ultimately realized he needed to do something about it.

“We waited on Pierre for a bit,” Shanahan said. “It was going very positive for a while, that’s why I felt real good about it. But we came back from that bye week and it had gotten worse. We tried out hardest last week. He went out and went full go Wednesday, it swelled up on him, caused him a lot of pain and after having that same thing through almost most of the year, especially it was the week before the Green Bay game that it really started coming, it was just lingering too long where P knew he had to get something done. So we had to shut him down now.”

In eight games this season, Garcon had 24 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers come after a 2017 season in which Garcon appeared in the first eight games before suffering a season-ending neck injury against the Philadelphia Eagles. He had 40 catches for 500 yards in that season before the injury.

While Garcon can now get his knee taken care of, he will head into the offseason with some uncertainty about his future.

Garcon signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal with the Niners on March 9, 2017. Although the Niners are responsible for the $7.2 million that’s left of his prorated $12 million signing bonus, the rest of his contract is comprised of a series of option years and the Niners could get out without any additional financial penalty.

The 49ers have until the end of the 2018 league year in March of 2019 to exercise that option. Shanahan indicated no decision will be made right away on Garcon’s future with the team but did say Garcon, 32, plans to continue playing.

“I saw P in training camp when his knee wasn’t bothering him,” Shanahan said. “He was playing at a high level. It’s very hard to do that when you’re not healthy, especially the age these guys are at. Hopefully they can get healthy this offseason and then you’ve got to make decisions. You don’t just get rid of people to get rid of people. They’re all good players, good people, people we love here but you’re always trying to improve and get better. That’s what we see. What’s the competition you can create? What are the options out there?”

As for the short-term, Shanahan said a decision also hasn’t been made on who will take Garcon’s spot on the roster, though he acknowledged there are multiple options.

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Gambling recap – Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders help sportsbooks to another winning weekend

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Notable bets is a regular Monday roundup of wagers — some sharper than others — made recently at sportsbooks across the nation.

Sunday went to the underdogs and left bettors battered and bruised, especially the unfortunate souls who put big money on the New England Patriots to beat the Miami Dolphins.

Underdogs went 9-5 against the spread on Sunday, with seven outright upsets, and sportsbooks across the nation reaped the benefits.

Here are the notable bets:


NFL

• Nevada sportsbook operator CG Technology took a $20,500 money-line bet on the Patriots beating the Dolphins straight up at -410 odds. The Patriots were leading 33-28 with 16 seconds to play, before the Dolphins converted a 69-yard multi-lateral play for the winning touchdown as time expired. The $20,500 bet would have produced a $5,000 net win.

• The largest money-line bet on the Dolphins that CG Technology took was $10,000 at +340 odds. The bettor won $34,000.

• A bettor at the Golden Nugget sportsbook in New Jersey placed a $20 money-line parlay on the Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. The parlay paid $2,633.

Amari Cooper‘s touchdown catch off a tipped pass in the Dallas Cowboys‘ 29-23 overtime win over the Philadelphia Eagles completed a $1,000, five-team parlay at PlaySugarHouse.com, an online sportsbook in New Jersey, that paid $26,351. The bettor took the Dolphins +7.5, Colts +4.5, Browns +1.5, Ravens +6.5 and Cowboys -3.5.

• CG Technology took a $40,000 money-line parlay on the Buffalo Bills (-225) and Los Angeles Chargers (-1,400). The Chargers held on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Bills squandered a 17-6 lead, surrendering a touchdown to the New York Jets with 1:17 to play, and lost 27-23. The bet would have won just under $22,000.

• CG Technology also took a $50,000 bet on the Bills -3.5.

• The most lucrative game Sunday for MGM sportsbooks was the Baltimore Ravens covering as 6.5-point underdogs in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

• Caesars Entertainment director of specialty gaming Bill Sattler said the book took a few five-figure money-line parlays Sunday, each including the Patriots and/or the Steelers. Pittsburgh lost as 10-point road favorites to the Oakland Raiders 24-21.

• The lucrative game Sunday for Caesars sportsbooks was the underdog 49ers’ 20-14 upset of the Denver Broncos.

• A bettor at the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia placed an $8,000 bet on the Washington Redskins to win the NFC last week at 350-1 odds. The bet would pay $2.8 million. Washington lost to the New York Giants 40-16 Sunday.

• After the early games ended Sunday, CG Technology sportsbooks were in an enviable position. “The Ravens and Dolphins covering killed so many parlays that we had no chance of losing the rest of the day no matter what happened,” CG Technology vice president Jason Simbal said.

• The Chicago Bears‘ 15-6 upset of the Los Angeles Rams produced the biggest win of the day for FanDuel’s sportsbook, which reported that 80 percent of the point-spread bets were on the favored Rams.

• Multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks mentioned that handle was light over the weekend, something common for December. Still, there were few complaints on what was another profitable weekend. “Sunday was very good,” John Murray, director of The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told ESPN. “The kind of results we wish we could get earlier in the season when the handle is higher.”

• Notable Week 15 opening lines via SuperBook:

Chargers at Chiefs -3.5 (Thursday)
Cowboys at Colts -3
Packers at Bears -5.5
Patriots at Steelers NL
Eagles at Rams -7.5
Saints -7 at Panthers


College football

• More money was bet on the Army-Navy game at CG Technology sportsbooks than was bet on the Thursday night game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

• West Virginia star senior QB Will Grier has elected to sit out the Mountaineers’ bowl game against Syracuse to prepare for the NFL draft. West Virginia opened as 7-point favorites over the Orange at most books. The line began dropping last week and was down to -5 before the Grier news was made official Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Jack Allison is expected to start in place of Grier. The Mountaineers were 1.5-point favorites at most sportsbooks Monday. Syracuse and West Virginia will play in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando, Florida.

• Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray opened at 25-1 to win the Heisman Trophy. He captured the award Saturday, becoming the second straight Sooner quarterback to win the award, following Baker Mayfield. A Caesars Palace sportsbook manager told ESPN that the house won five times as much money with Murray winning as it would have lost if Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa had won.

• The early betting action on the College Football Playoff semifinal games was on both favorites, Alabama and Clemson. As of last Thursday at William Hill’s sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey, 86 percent of the money that had been wagered on the Orange Bowl point spread was on the Crimson Tide, who remained 14-point favorites over Oklahoma.

The Cotton Bowl between Clemson and Notre Dame had been more evenly bet, with the Tigers receiving 57 percent of the money wagered on the point spread. Clemson was an 11-point favorite at most sportsbooks.

• On Nov. 21, a bettor at a William Hill sportsbook in New Jersey placed a $100,000 bet on Notre Dame to win the national championship at 7-1 odds. The bet would win a net $700,000.

• On Aug. 10, a bettor at a William Hill sportsbook in Nevada placed a $10,000 bet on Clemson to win the national championship at 5-1 odds. The bet would win a net $50,000.


Odds and ends

• Boxing: A bettor at the Flamingo sportsbook in Las Vegas placed a $1,000 bet on heavily favored Vasiliy Lomachenko to defeat Jose Pedraza in their lightweight title fight Saturday. The bettor laid -7,000 odds and won a net $14.30 when Lomachenko was awarded a unanimous decision.

• Soccer: Team USA opened as the favorite to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer in France. The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas installed the U.S. as the favorite at 2-1, followed by France (7-2) and Germany (5-1). Japan, England and the Netherlands are each 10-1.

• Parlay: A bettor at the MGM sportsbook at GoldStrike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi hit a $40, 13-team parlay that paid $103,581 on Saturday. The bettor parlayed 12 college basketball games with Army on the moneyline (-340) against Navy in college football.

The 12 basketball winners: Toledo +2, South Alabama -2, Hofstra -2.5, Central Michigan -8.5, Penn -5.5, Georgetown +10.5, Villanova -10.5, Oklahoma -6.5, Pittsburgh +10.5, South Carolina +17.5, Oakland +10 and Maryland -9.5.

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