Jaguars packing up locker room, looking ahead to draft after surprising season comes to close

Head coach Doug Pederson of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence look on during the second half of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 04, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) (Leon Halip, 2022 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars fans are heartbroken but optimistic after Saturday’s playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

On Monday morning, the Players will make one more trip to TIAA Bank Field, not to prepare for the next round of the playoffs but to clean out their lockers.

It’s expected to be a somber moment but one that also carries some excitement about the future.

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The next season kicks off on Sept. 7. That’s just 226 days away. That’s plenty of time for the Jags to brush off the playoff loss and build on what made this season so thrilling to watch.

We’re expecting to hear from head coach Doug Pederson Monday at noon.

The players have a lot to be proud of, from earning the second AFC South title in franchise history to making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

A lot of the players have also talked about the difference in the locker room between Pederson and former head coach Urban Meyer. And while he’s not the favorite to win, that’s a big reason Pederson still has a chance to be named NFL Coach of the Year.

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“It starts with Doug, starts with our head coach,” wide receiver Zay Jones. “I mean, I think Jags fans, if anything talking about the future have something to be excited about. Especially with Doug Peterson at the helm. And the man is special, he truly cares.”

“It’s clear and evident,” tight end Evan Engram said. “Great Leader, great man, you know, great teacher, great coach. As you can tell the things that he’s been through, he’s learning from and he has plans for and he’s a great motivator.”

The front office has some key decisions to make during the off-season, from free agency to the draft.

For the first time in two years, the Jags will not have the No. 1 pick.

Instead, Jacksonville will pick 24th overall in the first round in the draft that begins April 27.