For weeks, the Jacksonville Jaguars were the toast of the general manager/coaching cycle. Most considered the double-vacancies at least within the top-2 of jobs available due to the number of draft picks, cap space, and the No. 1 overall pick.
Now, the Jaguars have reportedly closed in on who they want as their general manager to pair with new head coach Urban Meyer. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars are expected to remove the interim tag from Trent Baalke's title and promote him to full-time general manager.
The lukewarm at best reaction from many in the Jaguars' support base isn't exactly surprising, though anyone who says they didn't think this was the likely outcome would likely just be lying to themselves. But the unofficial decision to hire Baalke and move forward with him as Meyer's top front office partner begs a question that executives have likely asked as well: just how appealing is Jacksonville's general manager vacancy right now anyway?
Yes, the same number of draft picks remain. Yes, the team is positioned wonderfully in terms of cap space. And yes, Trevor Lawrence will still be there at No. 1 overall when April rolls around. But the hiring of Meyer changes the entire role of Jacksonville's general manager and in essence likely changed its desirability of it as a whole.
That isn't to say the hiring of Meyer is a negative. Instead, it is painting a realistic picture. With Meyer at the helm, the Jaguars will clearly be built in his vision and with his fingerprints all over the roster and organization as a whole. There is an abundance of resources available, but for all intents and purposes those are Meyer's resources to use.
Think of it much like the situations you see in Seattle and San Francisco, where the roster moves of each organization are heavily influenced by the head coach. It is still a general manager role in title, yes, but it isn't the prototypical general manager position where they are the final voice on personnel.
For many scouts and front office executives, this can still be an appealing situation. It would free them up to do more scouting. They would also not really have to deal with being a face of the franchise.
But it would also likely take away some glamor from the role. Any executive that steps into the vacancy would have to accept that it is Meyer's show and that they each answer to Jaguars owner Shad Khan. That likely isn't a role that could be sold on every candidate out there.
This is the path Khan created when he fired former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin. Coughlin and the front office set the tone of the team, and it backfired. Now, the Jaguars are going in the exact opposite direction under Meyer. As a result, the responsibilities of the general manager role have seemingly shifted to a degree.
"My whole aspect—and this started really about 15 months ago—that we need to be a coach-centric team and organization, where the head coach really has to lead the kind of players he wants, the kind of team we need to be. And the general manager, myself, we have to support that mission," Khan said last Friday.
"And somehow, someway, that had been lost. The idea here is really more about transparency, collaboration, teamwork and accountability. So I think this would lead to the natural question. I mean, I’ve talked to Urban about our general manger, who it ought to be and we’re working together on it. I hope we’ll have an announcement or something in the next week or so, but the objective is going to be that—and I’ve shared this with Urban, he’s on board—both of them will be reporting to me. But everybody in the organization, I mean, we’re going to be carrying out Urban’s vision of the team and the kind of players we want.”
For that reason, maybe it isn't much of a shock to the system that the Jaguars are likely set to land a retread general manager who is an internal hire. Baalke assumingly knows the roster like the back of his hand after serving as a top member of the front office for the past year, and he does have previous experience helping a college coach transition to an NFL head coaching gig.
But his eventual hiring does create the question of just how desirable the job is to begin with. That isn't meant to be a knock on their process, either, but instead should show that expectations for the general manager hire should have been reset completely once Meyer came on board.