The Jacksonville Jaguars have long-term plans to generate more revenue. They expect to break ground on an entertainment district adjacent to their aging stadium this spring and eventually hope to develop the shipyards along the St. Johns River.
Both are years from completion.
In the meantime, the Jaguars have found a short-term solution: another home game in London.
Jacksonville announced Tuesday it has reached an agreement with the NFL to play consecutive home games at Wembley Stadium next season, doubling the franchise’s overseas income and potentially strengthening its foothold in a market the NFL wants to expand.
Fan reaction surely will be mixed, at best.
“My expectation is that it should be very positive,’’ said owner Shad Khan, adding that he doesn’t believe playing two games abroad puts his team at a competitive disadvantage. ‘‘Everything we’re doing helps the city, helps us. And that’s what you need a small-market team to do to get on competitive footing with . . . all the big-market teams.”
The Jaguars will play back-to-back games at Wembley to bolster revenue during “a period of significant change within the league,” team president Mark Lamping said.
Dates and opponents were not announced. Jacksonville protected home games against Pittsburgh and Chicago, so those teams will play at TIAA Bank Field.
Lamping said the recent relocation of the Chargers, Raiders, and Rams will move all three out of the NFL’s bottom fourth in local revenue. Jacksonville remains there, searching for ways out.
“Makes our path here exiting the bottom quartile of the league more challenging, but we believe achievable,’’ Lamping said.
The Jaguars have played a “home game” at Wembley every year since 2013 and is under contract to do so through 2020. Khan and Lamping expect to extend the contract. It’s unclear whether the next deal will include two games annually abroad.
“I’m a big believer in you judge by actions and not just by words,’’ Khan said. ‘‘We’ve talked about possibly playing two games [in London]. But we’re not the sole judge here or the decision-maker. I think it has to make sense for the league, which ultimately decides. But right now this is just about two games this season.”
The NFL is considering moving to a 17-game regular-season schedule under the next collective bargaining agreement, a change that could help the Jaguars and other clubs play at varying venues without penalizing fan bases accustomed to attending the same number of games a year.
Jacksonville insists playing an extra game in London will help alleviate some financial concerns while “Lot J” is being developed. Khan is sharing the cost of the $700 million project in the main parking lot adjacent to the stadium.
The proposal calls for an entertainment district that includes restaurants, bars, luxury condominiums, an office tower, and a five-star hotel. The renovated area could revive downtown Jacksonville and position the area to host “world-class events.” The shipyards are next on Khan’s to-do list, followed by a significant stadium renovation.
Khan has personally invested more than $100 million into making Jacksonville a more feasible NFL market.
“We need to continue to do more. We can’t do this overnight,’’ Lamping said. ‘‘These games in London will provide us with financial benefits during a much-needed time during the transition from where we are today until we open Lot J.
“We’re more confident than ever that we can be the catalyst to help the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville realize our full potential.”
Jacksonville, which has failed to regularly fill its stadium over the past 20 years (15 losing seasons), more than doubles its single-game revenue by playing overseas.
Jacksonville’s ticket, television, sponsorship, and stadium revenue streams are smaller than those of NFL teams in larger markets. Earning money in London helps offset some of the disparity, and the game remains a critical part of the team’s long-term plan.
The franchise got extended marketing rights in the United Kingdom when it signed its deal with the NFL in 2013 and even has an office and a 50,000-member fan club in London. The Jaguars credit about 11 percent of their local revenue to playing annually abroad. They expect that number to jump significantly with two games there.
Khan insists the move was never intended to create a potential relocation spot, but rather a way to gain more control over American football in the burgeoning market.
Khan remains open to buying Wembley if it were to end up back on the market.
“Make no mistake: Winning is the top priority,’’ Khan said. ‘‘Everything we’re striving to do for the franchise and the city is about winning and about building a franchise that’s expected to win consistently.”
Jaguars add Baalke
The Jaguars hired former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke as their director of player personnel.
Baalke replaces Chris Polian, who was fired last month after seven seasons in Jacksonville.
Baalke spent the last three years working for the NFL as a football operations consultant. Before that, he spent 12 seasons with the 49ers (2005-16), including the final six as GM.
Baalke helped build a San Francisco team that advanced to the NFC Championship game in three consecutive seasons (2011-13). He also hired failed NFL coaches Jim Tomsula (2015) and Chip Kelly (2016).
DT Davis suspended
Defensive tackle Carl Davis was suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Davis’s contract with the Jaguars is set to expire when the league calendar begins in March, and it’s unlikely the Jaguars will re-sign him.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound defender played in three games in 2019, including two for Jacksonville and one for Indianapolis.
O’Shea catches on with Browns
Chad O’Shea, who was fired after the season as the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, was officially announced as the Browns’ receivers coach and passing game coordinator. He replaces Adam Henry, who spent the past two seasons as receivers coach.
O’Shea and new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski both joined the Vikings in 2006 as assistants on Brad Childress’s staff, with Stefanski as assistant to the head coach and O’Shea as an an offensive assistant.
Before getting the Dolphins’ job, O’Shea spent 10 years as the Patriots’ wide receiver coach and won three Super Bowls.
Lynn gets extension; staff revamped
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn will go into next season with a contract extension and changes to his staff.
Lynn has a 27-24 mark in three seasons, including 1-1 in the postseason. He led the Chargers to the playoffs in 2018 but they fell to 5-11 this season. He was going into the upcoming season on the final year of his original contract, but both sides had previously said they were confident something would be worked out.
Shane Steichen will remain the offensive coordinator after taking over midway through the season. The Chargers finished 10th in the league in total offense but were fifth in yards per game with Steichen calling plays. Los Angeles’s running game also experienced a resurgence under Steichen, averaging 112.1 yards per game, an improvement of nearly 43 yards over the first half of the season.
James Campen has been hired as offensive line coach after spending last season in Cleveland, where he coached the line as well as serving as associate head coach.
David Diaz-Infante will be the assistant offensive line coach after being with the New York Jets for three years.
Alfredo Roberts, who worked with running backs the past three seasons, will return to coaching tight ends. Mark Ridgley will move to running backs after being an assistant offensive line coach the past two years. Rip Scherer will be a senior assistant after serving as tight ends coach the past two seasons.