With each move, the accusation gets louder: The Jacksonville Jaguars are tanking the 2020 season.
Dating back to the trade of Calais Campbell, whispers began humming about the Jags possibly "Tanking for Trevor" (Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson QB and presumptive No. 1 overall pick in 2021).
Those whispers turned to chatter and recently moved to outright chants.
With the recent trade of Yannick Ngakoue to Minnesota, release of Leonard Fournette, and Thursday's trade of safety Ronnie Harrison, the notion the Jags are trying to tank the season gets more vociferous.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew rejected the notion that the Jags would tank the season.
"I think more than anything it shows that people are watching us very closely," Minshew said Thursday, via The Florida Times-Union. "They see it from afar and see we're losing our biggest names. But that's not how we feel."
The rational reason to reject the Jags tanking idea is that the main pieces involved in that project would likely be the ones losing their jobs with another disastrous season.
"Realistically, I know if we're tanking, coach [Doug] Marrone, [general manager] Dave [Caldwell] and me are probably going to be out of jobs," Minshew said. "Us three and a lot of other guys in the locker room are not going to let that crap happen. I feel very confident in everybody's desire to win. That's [losing] absolutely not anything we envision happening."
Minshew speaks truth about the future if the losses mount in 2020.
Drafting Lawrence, or any other QB, would spell the end to Minshew Mania in Jacksonville. Marrone likely only got another season to coach the squad because of the promise Minshew showed last year. After five-win and six-win seasons, a fifth year doesn't seem like it'd be in the offering if 2020 crashed even worse. Caldwell has been Teflon for years. The Jags are 36-76 since he was named GM in 2013. While part of those years Tom Coughlin took charge, the truth remains that last year's six-win season was the Jags' second-best record since Caldwell took over.
As we saw last year with Miami, tanking is a front-office proposition. Players and coaches don't tank. It's not in the DNA of football players to give up on an entire season. If it were, they wouldn't have made it this far.
Given the heat on Caldwell recently, it would seem like a poor strategy for him to compile draft picks for someone else to use.
Regardless of whether it's a conscious tank-job or not, the current makeup of the Jags roster doesn't shout promise for the 2020 season. It's on Minshew and Marrone to make magic once the games start. Otherwise both will probably be out of a job in Jacksonville by next year.