PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Free agency is less than a week away, but Urban Meyer couldn’t pass up the chance for a day at the golf course.
To watch, not to play. But, Meyer said he plans on doing that very soon, too.
On Friday, he visited TPC Sawgrass for the first time as head coach of the Jaguars and took in the second round of The Players Championship. Sure, free agency looms and Pro Days are in full swing now, but Meyer thought it would be a good break.
“Well, [Jaguars communications director] Amy [Palcic] and I talked about it. We’re extremely busy, but I thought it was really important to come out here because this is one of the first times I get to show support for -- I love this community,” Meyer said. “I know this community very well.”
Meyer knows the area well, and the course well, too.
He recruited the North Florida area heavily when he coached at Florida, and he’s out here at least once a year for Tim Tebow’s celebrity golf event.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played it, just played it (not in a tournament),” Meyer said of the Stadium Course. “That’s going to change now that I’m here.”
Seeing the tournament in person, and being seen by fans, is another visible reminder that it’s a new era in Jacksonville, and another reminder that the Jaguars are on the clock for big changes.
Meyer said again that he’s pushing Jacksonville to have the best facilities in the NFL. He didn’t elaborate on what those facilities were, but said: “it will happen, or that should happen.”
“You push everyone to their brink as far as effort and what we expect, but you give them the very best that you possibly can get your hands on. That means the best trainers. We redid our whole sport performance program. I want it to be the very best in the NFL,” Meyer said.
“Ours was the best in college. I’m biased, but the way we did it, we’re going to do the same thing here. I think our players deserve — I think this could be a destination place. ... So why would you not be here if you had the best facilities, best trainers, best coaches and best nutrition, all of the above. We can do that here.”
Free agency is on the forefront of Meyer’s mind right now.
The new league year opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Jaguars, with a league-high in salary cap space ($73.6 million) and nearly a dozen draft picks, are positioned to clean up both this month and next.
General manager Trent Baalke said earlier this week that the Jaguars plan to use those salary cap dollars to bring in free agents. The high-profile names will certainly land the big money deals early in the free agency period, but a reduced cap will mean teams can find bargains that they wouldn’t have before. The salary cap is $182.5 million this year, nearly $16 million less than 2020.
“I’m waking up in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling trying to put this — all of us are trying to put this thing together,” Meyer said. “You just look at the history, which I have, in the last year, just looking through the history of the NFL. How many chances do you get to build a roster like we are? You have cap space, 11 draft picks. You can’t screw it up, man.”
One thing that Meyer mentioned was the potential for the Jaguars to resume playing a home game in London at some point in the future. Jacksonville had played one home game there every season since 2013. Owner Shad Khan announced in early 2020 that the Jaguars were going to play two home games in London last year, but all international games were scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t know that [about playing overseas this year]. I know we play, I think, one in London. That’s what I’ve kind of been told. I’ve not done a lot of research on it,” Meyer said. “... That’s what I’ve been told [about playing one game in London]. This year I don’t know because of COVID. I don’t know.”