The Jacksonville Jaguars earned a trip to the playoffs in 2022 during head coach Doug Pederson’s first year in charge.
The Jaguars ended a five-year playoff drought and mounted an improbable comeback to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild-card round. Last season’s success raised expectations for 2023.
Star quarterback Trevor Lawrence was entering his third NFL season, and Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Ridley was reinstated. Ridley was added to a receiver room that already featured Christian Kirk and Zay Jones.
But Jacksonville had a disappointing 2023 campaign, dropping five of its final six games. The Jaguars ended the year with a 9-8 record and missed the postseason. The issues down the stretch sparked conversations about whether the team’s general manager and head coach were at odds.
General manager Trent Baalke quickly rejected any suggestion of dysfunction between two of the organization’s top decision makers.
“A lot of what’s written, a lot of the narratives out there are just false,” the Jaguars general manager said earlier this week in a press conference. “Plan and simple, false narratives.”
JAGUARS GM VOWS TO TACKLE TREVOR LAWRENCE’S CONTRACT EXTENSION AT ‘APPROPRIATE TIME’
Baalke added that he maintained a strong relationship with Pederson despite the season’s rough ending.
“When you go through tough times, you find out a lot about a lot of people,” Baalke said. “The season didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We had some strong conversations throughout the year [about] where things were at and where things were trending. Great communication, great collaboration and really respect him and everything that he does.”
Baalke and Pederson will both likely be under considerable pressure to right the ship in 2024. Baalke will be tasked with making a decision on Lawrence’s long-term future with the team.
The Jaguars could let Lawrence play out the 2024 season, the final year of his rookie deal, or they could pick up his fifth-year option, which would tie the young quarterback to the franchise through the 2025 season.
Baalke spoke with reporters Thursday and suggested the organization is open to getting a long-term deal done with Lawrence at some point before the 2024 season kicks off.
But he cautioned that contract talks would not be rushed and would only happen when the timing is right.
“As far as Trevor and the long-term relationship with this team, there’s no doubt in that,” Baalke said. “We’re going to get something done at the appropriate time.”
Baalke also expressed confidence about being able to work out a deal to retain Jaguars star pass rusher Josh Allen. The two-time Pro Bowler is scheduled to enter free agency when the new league year begins in March.
Allen finished the 2023 season with 17½ sacks. But Baalke strongly hinted the 26-year-old Allen would not be on the open market for very long.
“Yeah, Josh will be a Jaguar,” Baalke said.
Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.