Can Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars Get Out of Urban Meyer’s Contract?

Aron Solomon

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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

While you were sleeping, Urban Meyer was fired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

For your edification and entertainment, I have created a three image photo essay to explain this mercy killing:

1/ Urban Meyer all season, during his 15-game tenure as head coach of the pungently awful Jacksonville Jaguars:

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Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

2/ Jaguars owners Shad Khan, watching his franchise implode:

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BEN PICKMAN / Sports Illustrated

3/ Urban Meyer this morning, when we wakes up and realizes Khan will be paying him approximately fifty million more dollars to never watch the Jaguars play again:

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Getty Images

Fun photo essay aside, Khan’s firing of Meyer may have been necessary but was not a huge shock, even before this brutal season.

The idea that even the best college coaches transition quickly, easily, or generally well to the NFL was picked apart last night by ESPN Senior NFL writer, Adam Schefter:

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Adam Schefter / Twitter

Yet Urban Meyer’s time at Jacksonville was particularly odious. As PFF’s Ari Meirov tweeted, here are the low-lights of Meyer’s incredibly brief tenure.

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Ari Meirov / Twitter

Meyer signed a six-year contract in January of 2021. While the exact contract terms weren’t disclosed, the most educated guesses peg the deal at around $12 million per year. A lot of people believe that the Jaguars will have enough ammunition here to fire Urban Meyer for cause and not have to pay out his contract. While radio and social media pundits spent their entire night theorizing that the Jaguars may not need to pay out Meyer’s contract, will even the most egregious of his known transgressions amount to a breach of contract sufficient to release the Jaguars from their payment obligations?

Michael Epstein, a New Jersey lawyer, argues that this would be an uphill battle for Khan and the Jaguars:

“The point of a guaranteed multi-year contract is that it lures someone to accept the job with the promise that no matter how it works out, that salary will be paid if the team decides to fire the coach and go in a different direction. Here, Jacksonville will try to make an argument for cause, yet absent a truly egregious breach, the team has to pay.”

This supports the defense of any potential legal claim the Jaguars might seek to pursue against Meyer, as they knew or should have known that they were assuming the risk of hiring a head coach with not only zero NFL head coaching experience, but no NFL experience of any sort.

Hiring any coach is a gamble and the market for the most accomplished and the most promising coaches is insanely intense. Meyer definitely fell into the category of someone with a truly unlimited ceiling for potential NFL coaching success given what he achieved as one of the most successful college coaches in recent memory.

The Jaguars aren’t just a bad team, they’re historically and hysterically bad.

The offensive line is horrible. The overall offense is so bad that they would struggle to surpass the nine points per game they currently score if we let them start each possession on the opposing 40 yard line. The wide receivers are second in the NFL in dropped balls. Even quarterback-Messiah Trevor Lawrence looks worse and less capable than he did in his ultimate year in college.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a dumpster fire and Urban Meyer not only failed to extinguish it, he may have thrown on some fryer grease. But that’s life in the NFL. Had Urban Meyer been the best new coach in NFL history and led this team to an 11-2 start, no one would be suggesting that the Jaguars double his pay.

Shad Khan’s net worth is 8.7 billion dollars. You don’t rise to that level of success by happily walking away from $50 million you owe on a bad deal, but that’s what Khan and the Jaguars are going to have to do here.

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Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital, who has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world.

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