The Jacksonville Jaguars could take another step to securing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft with a loss Sunday against the Chicago Bears, and general manager and potential head-coaching candidates are paying close attention, league sources told ESPN.
Since the New York Jets‘ upset victory last weekend over the Los Angeles Rams catapulted the Jaguars into the slot for the No. 1 pick, Jacksonville’s GM and head-coaching jobs have become much more attractive to candidates, who have talked about what an opportunity it would be to work with projected top draft pick Trevor Lawrence.
The Jaguars would have an advantage over any other team hiring a general manager or head coach if they landed the No. 1 pick, which — combined with their stockpile of 2021 draft selections — would make those jobs as attractive as any other potential openings in the league.
The Jaguars are scheduled to have 11 picks in next April’s draft, including extra picks acquired in trades involving Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue and Ronnie Harrison. The Jaguars also will have close to $100 million in salary-cap space as well at a time when many other teams will have to cut players to get under the reduced cap.
The Jaguars (1-13) own the tiebreaker with the Jets (1-13) for the top pick based on strength of schedule. Jacksonville could clinch the No. 1 pick as early as Sunday if they lose to Chicago and if the Jets pull off another upset against the Cleveland Browns. Per ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Jaguars have a 74.2% chance of landing the top pick, with the Jets at 25.6% and the Bengals at 0.2%.
The Jaguars have been searching for a new GM since firing Dave Caldwell last month. Former Texans GM Rick Smith and ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Louis Riddick both interviewed with Jacksonville this past week.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, who has one season remaining on his contract after this year, said this past week that Jacksonville would try to win its final two games — even if it means missing the opportunity to draft Lawrence. Jacksonville is 12-34 under Marrone since the start of the 2018 season.
The Jaguars have lost 13 consecutive games, tying a franchise record, and yet there’s a real movement in the city for them to extend the losing skid and draft Lawrence, the star quarterback at Clemson. Even Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry put out a pair of tweets last Sunday night, the second of which read: “Tis the season and Santa smiled on Jax today.”
ESPN’s Michael DiRocco contributed to this report.