Jaguars GM job has incredible appeal
By: Hays Carlyon
Jaguars owner Shad Khan is ready to launch a new vision of Jaguars football.
His announcement Sunday night that Dave Caldwell has been removed as general manager signaled the embarking of a new era.
Caldwell gave the job everything he had. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. I’m not going to rehash his eight-year tenure.
Obviously, Khan saw what we did. His franchise needed a new direction.
Now that we know that is coming, the future is where we should be focused.
That starts with the most basic question.
What does Khan have to offer in the general manager’s job?
It’s simple: A fantastic situation.
The new Jaguars general manager (I’ve already advocated for Kansas City Director of Football Operations Mike Borgonzi in this space) will inherit a tremendous hand for a variety of reasons.
Let’s go through them.
The build starts here and Caldwell has left his successor a bunch of ammunition. The Jaguars have seven picks in the first four rounds of the 2021 draft, including four in the first two rounds.
The 2021 draft is where the new general manager will find his starting quarterback.
The 1-10 Jaguars are likely going to “earn” the second pick in the draft. They can even win one of their final five games and still be guaranteed of drafting second.
That will likely bring Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields to Jacksonville.
Adding a prospect like Fields and keeping the other premium picks is a fantastic place to start a build.
That leads us to…
The rookie contract
Fields will sign a four-year contract that should be around $38 million. That means Fields will be an incredible bargain (assuming he’s good) for his first three years in the league.
That allows the new GM the flexibility to build the roster up around Fields.
Which leads us to…
The cap space
Again, Caldwell leaves the Jaguars in incredible shape here. Spotrac.com estimates the Jaguars have $84.7 million in salary-cap space next year. That’s the most in the NFL.
The new GM will have the ability to quickly reshape the roster as he sees fit. That will also excite potential head coaching candidates.
The new GM doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. There are no difficult cut decisions on key veterans to make here.
The most difficult decision appears to be whether or not to re-sign left tackle Cam Robinson.
The new GM will need that cap space because the overall talent level of the roster now is subpar. That’s the biggest concern. However, with the significant draft picks and adding some impactful free agents there is the potential for fast improvement.
There are other factors that make the Jaguars job appealing.
Khan is a GM’s dream. He spends big on players. He doesn’t want to make football decisions. He doesn’t micromanage the operation. Khan also showed vast patience with Caldwell, although the new GM can’t count on that. Still, it’s better than working for an owner with a precedent of quick triggers.
The AFC South is treading water. There is no juggernaut in this division. The Titans, Colts and Texans all have concerns moving beyond 2020.
All three are paying their quarterbacks big money. The Jaguars will have a huge advantage with Fields’ contract (again assuming he’s good).
The bottom line
The Jaguars have a roster lacking in talent now, but this situation is a team-builder’s dream. Few franchises have ever amassed the kind of draft capital and cap space the new GM will inherit.
Khan’s willingness to spend on talent and his strength in delegating should create the ideal culture for the new GM to operate.
A division begging for a heavyweight to step up also creates an inviting environment for early playoff berths.
The Jaguars GM job isn’t just one of 32.
This is a terrific job.
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)