NFL: Del Rio staying in Jacksonville amid USC reports
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars are sticking with coach Jack Del Rio, at least for another season.
Owner Wayne Weaver met with Del Rio on Tuesday, then said they would continue their rebuilding project with the Jaguars.
The announcement came amid speculation that Del Rio was a candidate to succeed Pete Carroll at Southern California. Carroll left USC to become the Seattle Seahawks coach.
Del Rio, a former All-American linebacker at USC, denied a report in the L.A. Daily News that he had been sent a contract Monday night. He said he never considered leaving Jacksonville.
Weaver scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m.
The Jaguars lost their final four games, faded from playoff contention and finished last in the AFC South for the second straight season. It was a significant setback for a small-market franchise known more for empty seats than postseason prowess.
Many Jaguars fans have expressed frustration with Del Rio, who is 58-57 in seven seasons and has just one playoff victory.
But Weaver cleaned house last year, parting ways with several veterans and turning control over to general manager Gene Smith. He kept Del Rio, however, and said he was confident he would get things turned around.
Smith and Del Rio took an aggressive approach to revamping the roster. Four rookies started most of the season, and several more played significant snaps.
The result was a 7-5 start that had Jacksonville in line for a wild-card spot. The late losing streak ended all those postseason thoughts.
Nonetheless, Del Rio believes the team is close to getting back to the playoffs. The franchise has missed the postseason eight times in the last 10 years.
Del Rio just completed the first year of a contract extension and would be owed nearly $16 million if Weaver fired him — a huge payout for a team that blacked out nine of 10 home games because of slumping ticket sales.
Weaver also recently extended the contracts of Del Rio’s assistant coaches, the first indication he planned to keep the entire stick intact.