The silence between Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and formerly-presumed starting left tackle Branden Albert has carried into May.
Albert remains a no-show during the team’s voluntary off-season program and Marrone has yet to speak to him.
“No. Still. None,” Marrone said Saturday during rookie camp. “Probably don’t expect him to [reach out] now.”
The Jaguars drafted Cam Robinson No. 34 overall on April 28 and general manager Dave Caldwell declared the left tackle position open for competition, clearly a shot at Albert that his absence will be unsuccessful contractually and cost him a starting spot.
The first time Albert can be fined is if he fails to show up for the start of mandatory mini-camp on June 13.
That is why the Jaguars brass are using mostly measured words in describing their disappointment that Albert is absent and silent.
Two things do not add up:
1. Albert visited the Jaguars in mid-February when trade talks with Miami were basically completed. Albert knew what he was getting into.
2. Albert returned to Jacksonville in mid-March for a press conference after the trade was officially announced. By that point, a source said a new contract was not in the offing, something we assume the Jaguars told Albert.
So why all of a sudden did he decide to not show up to protest his contract?
Perhaps Albert saw the money other offensive tackles were given in free agency — $24 million for Carolina’s Matt Kalil, $25 million for the Chargers’ Russell Okung and $26.3 million for Minnesota’s Riley Reiff – and felt his deal (base salaries of $8.875 million and $9.575 million the next two years) was not up to par.
The minute Robinson was drafted by the Jaguars – who traded up a spot to get him, Albert should have texted Marrone and requested a conversation about his status. He should have then been at the Jaguars’ offices a few days later and both sides would have acted like nothing happened. At his salary, keeping Albert as a back-up is bad business.
Instead, we get the current story, which continues to add layers.
Marrone said his emotion is “actually more hurt than mad,” because he obviously feels disrespected by Albert.
“I just want to know so when you ask me, I can answer it or when [Coughlin or Caldwell] asks, I can answer them,” Marrone said.
“They ask me, ‘Have you talked to him? Is he going to come? Is he going to play?’ I don’t know.
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve had a player on the [franchise] tag and they would say, ‘Hey, I’m not signing the tag, I’m not going to [show up], but I’m going to be working out and training.’ … You just want to know where everyone is at and that’s all I was expecting [from Albert].”
Marrone was asked if he thinks Albert simply does not want to play.
“I think of everything – I’m one of those guys who says, ‘Could it be this? Could it be that?’ – I can go down the list of things,” Marrone said. “I don’t know. I can’t speak for him.”
If Albert fails to show on June 13, the Jaguars should speak loudly and name Robinson their starting left tackle.
BORTLES ‘MUCH IMPROVED’
The Jaguars’ veterans were on the field last week for individual drills, Marrone’s first chance to watch quarterback Blake Bortles make throws.
“I think improved, there’s no doubt about it,” Marrone said. “There are certain things you would be able to see as far as his elbow and arm [that are] much improved and there are things that we’re still working on. We’re trying to build it up like anything else.
“If we throw 150 [times], he’ll be better. If we throw 200, he’ll be better. If we throw 250, he’ll be better. We’re trying to build his arm strength so the more he throws, the better he’ll be.”
Marrone said Bortles’ pitch count will be higher than in previous off-seasons. The Jaguars have only three quarterbacks under contract, which equals more throws for Bortles and back-ups Chad Henne and Brandon Allen.
Via video on the Jaguars’ website, tight end Marcedes Lewis was back in town last week and participating in the off-season program.
Carolina fully guaranteed the rookie contract of tailback Christian McCaffrey, who was drafted eighth overall last week and the Jaguars are expected to do the same with tailback Leonard Fournette, the fourth overall pick. McCaffrey’s guarantee of $17,241,304 is the third-highest for an NFL tailback and Fournette’s deal of $27,147,574 – if guaranteed – will be the most.
The Jaguars will have the first of their 10 organized team activity practices on May 23.