JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone still has not spoken with linebacker Telvin Smith, but he wants Smith to know that he and the rest of the organization are there to support him if he wants to reach out.
That was his immediate reaction when Smith announced on Instagram on Thursday that he would not be playing in 2019 because he needs to take time off for his family and his health.
“I kind of put football to the side,” Marrone said Friday after the first day of the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp. “I think that [football], to me, is an afterthought right now. I really believe in my heart that Telvin knows that we’re here to support him in any which way — not just myself, the coaches, the organization, his teammates, and I’m sure he’s aware of that.
“All we can do is just make sure we pray, and he knows that if he needs some support, obviously we’re here for him.”
Marrone would not speculate why Smith would not be willing to speak to the team and said he had no idea when he last spoke with Smith after the 2018 season ended.
“We just want to make sure that everyone knows that we’re there to support them and if they reach out — and hopefully each player does, not just Telvin — that to know that they don’t have to do anything alone,” Marrone said. “We’re here for them.”
Smith said in his statement on Instagram on Thursday afternoon that he would not play in 2019, but Marrone said the door would certainly be open for him to return if he were to change his mind.
“Hopefully we’ll have some communication before that and if we do, yeah, it’d be great,” Marrone said.
Smith was due to make $9.75 million this season and would have counted $12.56 million against the salary cap. If Smith does not play only the prorated portion of his signing bonus ($2.81 million) will count against the salary cap in 2019.
The Jaguars drafted Smith in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. A positive marijuana test at the NFL combine contributed to him dropping and per league rules also placed him in the NFL’s substance abuse program. However, he missed only four games — all because of injuries — in his five seasons.
Per ESPN Stats & Information, Smith has had more solo tackles (445) than any player since he entered the NFL and his 586 total tackles ranks fourth over that span. Smith also has nine interceptions (three of which he returned for touchdowns) in his career.
Smith, who had a career-high 134 tackles last season, was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2017 as a key part of a Jaguars defense that finished second in the NFL in sacks and turnovers forced and led the league in pass defense. The Jaguars scored seven defensive touchdowns that season and Smith had two, as well as another in the postseason.