Jacksonville Jaguars team owner Shad Khan has confided internally that he'd prefer to see the return of head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell for the 2020 season, league sources told ESPN.
The status of both Marrone and Caldwell in Jacksonville has been a topic of speculation, especially after the Jaguars fired Tom Coughlin, their executive vice president of football operations, on Wednesday, two days after the NFL Players Association warned players of potentially signing with the franchise because of excessive fines and player grievances.
The Jaguars have not made an official announcement on the status of Marrone or Caldwell for next season, and there might not be one since both are under contract for one more year.
Khan may not be inclined to make a proclamation whether Marrone and Caldwell are returning, particularly if the Jaguars finish strong, beginning with Sunday's game in Atlanta against the Falcons.
Sources have indicated to ESPN that Khan and others throughout the organization believe Marrone and Caldwell -- who led a team that was within one quarter of reaching the Super Bowl after the 2017 season -- have shown they are capable of doing their jobs.
In addition, sources say Khan is optimistic that Marrone -- who is said to have support for his return among key players -- and Caldwell will be able to operate effectively and successfully with more breathing room in a post-Coughlin era.
In his three seasons as the chief football operations executive, Coughlin's presence and heavy hand alienated numerous players, many of whom were planning to try to figure out a way out had Coughlin remained in charge. How they will feel if and when Marrone and Caldwell are retained is uncertain, but players welcomed this past week's change.
Sources said Coughlin and Marrone rarely had spoken since October, and each had his own ideas about the way the organization should be run.
If the Jaguars (5-9) flame out in the final two weeks, and look as bad as they have at times this season, the organization easily could make more changes. Khan is said to have already mapped out responses and remedies for every possible outcome from Jacksonville's last two games, and he will not be reluctant to make one or more terminations if called for.
But for the time being, Jacksonville's optimal plan for 2020 would include the return of Marrone and Caldwell. If that happens, each would have 2020 to make their case that they deserve an encore in 2021 and beyond.