JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are headed in a completely new direction.
And Los Angeles doesn’t appear to be the destination.
Team owner Wayne Weaver fired longtime coach Jack Del Rio on Tuesday after a 3-8 start and agreed to sell the Jaguars to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. Weaver named defensive coordinator Mel Tucker the interim coach and gave general manager Gene Smith a three-year contract extension, putting him in charge of the coaching search.
The moves marked the most significant changes for the small-market franchise since its inception in 1993.
“It’s the right thing at the right time and for the right reasons,” Weaver said. “We deserve better; the community deserves better. We’ve been very average over the last few years. I take responsibility for a lot of that, making mistakes in some personnel things, but look positive ahead that this team is not far away from being a very competitive football team.”
Forbes reported the sale to be worth $760 million.
Weaver, who will turn 77 in January, had been looking for an “exit strategy” for years, wanting to find someone to buy the team and keep it in Jacksonville. He had tears in his eyes several times as he announced his impending departure.
“It’s a little bittersweet, honestly, that it came as soon as it did,” Weaver said. “But the main motivation for the exit strategy was to find someone that has the same passion about the NFL, had the same passion about football in Jacksonville as we do, and I found that person.”
Del Rio’s job security had been tenuous since Weaver said the coach needed to make the playoffs to secure a 10th season in Jacksonville. The Jaguars were essentially eliminated with Sunday’s 20-13 loss to AFC South-leading Houston.
Del Rio leaves with a 69-73 record, including 1-2 in two playoffs appearances. The Jaguars didn’t win the AFC South in any of his nine seasons.