Jacksonville Jaguars  

 

Newly signed Myles Jack hopes Jags 'can keep' rest of '16 class

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You always hear general managers and coaches talk about: The more a player can do for a team, the better off the team is. And in turn, the better chance the player has to earn a roster spot or extend his career.

In the case of Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack, it filled his pockets.

"It's life-changing money," Jack said bluntly while standing in an almost empty locker room Friday afternoon in Jacksonville.

After just five days of negotiations, the former second-round pick out of UCLA signed a four-year, $57 million contract ($33 million guaranteed) that made him the third-highest paid middle linebacker in the NFL just a week prior to the start of the season, and three days before his 24th birthday.

"I don't know if he's ever missed a practice, ever missed any games or done anything of that nature except try to be the best player he can be and that player is rewarded," head coach Doug Marrone said when asked this week about Jack's new contract.

It's one thing to never miss practice or a game, but Jack plays every snap. Literally. Last season, Jack played 100 percent of the Jaguars' defensive snaps, all 1,020. One of just three defensive players in the league to do so last year.

In the eyes of the decision makers in Jacksonville, Jack not only can play all three linebacker spots, but he can be one of the best in the league at any of them. Along with rushing from the edge or covering the middle of the field, Jack has also suggested at times to the coaching staff that he can play safety, too, if they need him in a pinch.

If that happens down the road, it wouldn't be the first time his exceptional athletic ability and versatility would be considered when a position group was in a tight spot heading into game day. In a week last season when Jacksonville was thin at running back -- Jack thinks it was the Bills game in Week 12 -- the coaching staff was preparing to have him ready, if needed, to play ... running back.

"They were preparing to throw me back there, man," Jack said while kind of showing a juke move while holding an imaginary football. "They had a whole little package for me and everything. I was ready to go. I was excited. I was working on my footwork. I started watching film trying to see holes and everything. Everybody said I looked good, it just didn't work out that way. But I wanted it to though. To say I got a carry in the league or maybe made something happen, maybe a touchdown, that would have been dope."

If it came to it, Jack was willing to play out the fourth and final year of his contract and prepared himself for the possibility of hitting free agency at the end of the 2019 season if that was how it played out. Even with his deal done though, Jack still has the fear of free agency on his mind.

Two-time Pro Bowler Jalen Ramsey, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, was picked in the first round ahead of Jack in 2016. Using the pick after Jack, the Jaguars stole Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in the third round.

All three defensive stars taken in the same draft. Only Jack knows where he's playing the next few seasons, while Ramsey, who does have a fifth-year option, and Ngakoue do not.

"I definitely want to keep those guys, man," Jack said with a smile. "Yannick, those numbers speak for themselves. That price tag on his head is sky high. And obviously, (No.) 20 is going to be something else. I really hope that somehow we can keep all of us because we came in together, and I would love to leave with everybody."

That's looking long-term. In the immediate future, Ramsey, Jack and Ngakoue have to be focused on Sunday, when they're tasked with stopping one of the best offenses this league has ever seen.

"This is what you live for, man," Jack said. "Play against the MVP and I've been watching him all summer. The things that he can do, extend plays. We're playing against a team where you got the fastest man ever to play football. The offense is good and Andy Reid is back there. The puppet master just drawing up all these plays. What better team to go against? What better way to open up your season?

"If we can get a win, I honestly think that'll snowball our season into something really special."

Follow James Palmer on Twitter @JamesPalmerTV.

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