Last offseason, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan made a bold and somewhat controversial move when it came to his front office.
After a 1-15 season and the firing of former general manager Dave Caldwell, Khan opted to make an in-house hire for his first general manager hire since 2013, promoting interim general manager Trent Baalke to the full-time role.
“Trent Baalke has had success at virtually every level of football, notably so as a general manager who shrewdly and quickly built an NFL conference championship organization and team,” Khan said in a statement when he hired Baalke.
“That experience inspired us to recruit Trent to Jacksonville a year ago to serve as our director of player personnel and is one of many reasons why we are naming Trent as the new general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Trent thoroughly knows the NFL and the dynamics of today’s game, has an exceptional eye for talent and I know will have excellent chemistry with Head Coach Urban Meyer as they begin their mission to bring a consistent winner to our fans in Jacksonville.”
The chemistry with Meyer clearly never developed as Meyer turned out to be one of the worst coaches in NFL history. But Baalke was still able to help overhaul a Jaguars' roster that badly needed changing, moving on significant pieces from the last regime and stockpiling on draft picks.
A year after the Jaguars made seven trades between the end of the 2020 season and the start of the 2021 season, how do the trades and Baalke's work grade out today? We break it down below.
CJ Henderson trade
Terms: Jaguars traded CJ Henderson, 2022 fifth-round pick (No. 144) to Carolina Panthers for TE Dan Arnold, 2022 third-round pick (No. 70 overall)
When this trade was first finalized, there were plenty of scratched heads. Henderson had a turbulent tenure under Meyer, rarely practicing during the first half of training camp and even requiring a visit at home from Meyer and then-assistant head coach Charlie Strong to coax him to practice. After just three games in the 2021 season, Henderson was traded and the Jaguars moved on from the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for a tight end and a third-round pick.
Arnold went on to catch 35 passes for 408 yards for the Jaguars, establishing himself as a legit piece of the pass-catching rotation. He was one of the team's best weapons in 2021 and now projects to be a top-5 pass-catcher on the 2022 roster. Considering the Jaguars struggled to convince Henderson to even want to be on the field in 2021 and he played in just eight games as a rookie due to injuries, the Jaguars weren't really losing much with Henderson's departure.
Trading Henderson was more of a reflection for how bad of a pick he was in 2020. Baalke doesn't deserve complete innocence from that mistake since he was still a high-ranking member of the front office and isn't believed to have opposed the selection. Still, the Jaguars figured out quickly Henderson wasn't a fit and they moved on, adding Arnold and Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma in return.
Are Arnold and Muma worth the No. 9 overall pick? No, but it is better return than we have seen the Jaguars get out of other trades. The Henderson pick was a mess on multiple levels, but the Jaguars did get some decent value for a player who recorded two pass deflections in 12 games with the Panthers.
Verdict: Jaguars win.
Joe Schobert trade
Terms: Jaguars traded Joe Schobert to Pittsburgh Steelers for 2022 sixth-round pick (No. 198)
One trade that seemed strange at the time for the Jaguars to make last year was the Joe Schobert trade. Just one year into a five-year free agency deal, the Jaguars unloaded Schobert to the Steelers for just a sixth-round pick, giving the Steelers a starting linebacker while eating most of his salary and dead cap.
The Jaguars' decision to trade Schobert came just one year after the sixth-year linebacker signed with the team in the final year of the Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone regime. Schobert agreed to terms with the Jaguars for a five-year, $53.75 million contract which included a $12 million signing bonus and $21.5 million guaranteed.
Schobert started all 16 games for the Jaguars that year, recording 141 tackles, six tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions. But the Jaguars' defensive staff and front office last year didn't see Schobert as a fit in the 3-4 defense they envisioned being physical up the middle. Once Schobert failed to earn a spot on special teams or the starting defense, he became expendable.
To the surprise of many, the Jaguars ended up winning out on this trade. Schobert struggled in his one year with the Steelers and was released in March after the Steelers signed Myles Jack. The Jaguars, meanwhile, used the No. 198 pick to help move into the fifth-round to select Ole Miss running back Snoop Conner at No. 154 overall.
Verdict: Jaguars win.
Sidney Jones trade
Terms: Jaguars traded Sidney Jones to Seattle Seahawks for 2022 sixth-round pick (No. 188)
A trade that made a little bit of sense at the time but much less sense now was the Sidney Jones trade. When the Jaguars traded Jones, it was assumed that it was because the Jaguars felt so good about Henderson and Tyson Campbell. The Jaguars would have been right to think so about Campbell, but Henderson was traded just a few weeks later, leaving a big void in the secondary.
Fast forward to 2022, and Jones is coming off a strong year with the Seahawks and looks like a player the Jaguars should have tried to keep. The Jaguars don't have much cornerback depth behind their top three cornerbacks now, so keeping Jones would have absolutely been worth a sixth-round pick.
In just nine games in 2020, Jones set a passes defended mark—nine—that no other Jaguars secondary player came close to matching throughout the season. Rookie CJ Henderson got the closest with six. Jones also nabbed two interceptions which led late into the season before Schobert grabbed his third.
Verdict: Jaguars take a loss.
Gardner Minshew trade
Terms: Jaguars traded Gardner Minshew to Philadelphia Eagles for 2022 sixth-round pick (No. 197)
The Jaguars' handling of Gardner Minshew was odd. The Jaguars were always expected to trade Minshew after getting the No. 1 overall pick, and it was widely assumed inside Jacksonville that this is exactly what Minshew wanted. It took until after two weeks into the preseason for the trade to happen, though, with Minshew still taking first-team reps with the offense deep into training camp.
Minshew was fairly beaten out for the No. 2 job by CJ Beathard after Beathard had a better camp and preseason, but it was clear the Jaguars and Minshew needed to part ways and start over. Minshew's play is better than a sixth-round pick, but the Jaguars couldn't dictate the market, even while playing a long-term waiting game.
Malcom Brown trade
Terms: Jaguars traded 2021 seventh-round pick (No. 235 overall) to New Orleans Saints for DL Malcom Brown
The Jaguars got a starting-caliber run-defender and strong locker room presence in Malcom Brown for a seventh-round pick. Considering Brown is a good fit in each of their last two schemes and is still seen as a key leader today, then it is safe to say this was a smart trade for Baalke and the Jaguars to make.
Verdict: Jaguars win.
Josh Oliver trade
Terms: Jaguars traded Josh Oliver to Baltimore Ravens for 2022 seventh-round pick (No. 235)
The Jaguars spent two years hoping Josh Oliver would make an impact, but a number of injuries to the 2019 third-rounder limited him to four games and three catches for 15 yards in his Jaguars career. The Jaguars then traded him to Baltimore for a 2022 seventh-round pick in early March, dealing Oliver before Baalke and Meyer got a chance to see him on the field.
“I didn’t know Josh. That was our personnel side that made that decision and ran it by me before we did it and I agreed," Meyer said. "So, I just didn’t know a lot about him, and I know he’s had some injuries since he’s been here, and we decided to make that move.”
The Jaguars went on to use the seventh-round pick to pair with the No. 157 overall pick, packaging them together to send to Tampa Bay for a 2023 fourth-round pick in return. Oliver, meanwhile, played in 14 games for the Ravens and caught nine passes for 66 yards.
Considering the Jaguars have added two tight ends who are more proven and are better than Oliver in Evan Engram and Dan Arnold, the loss of Oliver hasn't been a significant one. The process was likely not a very good one since the Jaguars could have used Oliver on last year's depth chart, but turning him in part into a fourth-round pick is an overall win for the Jaguars.
Verdict: Jaguars win.
Josiah Scott trade
Terms: Jaguars traded Josiah Scott to Philadelphia Eagles for CB Jameson Houston, 2023 sixth-round pick
A Dave Caldwell draft pick, it was clear when the Jaguars traded Josiah Scott last offseason that Baalke didn't see the smaller cornerback fitting into his picture of what the secondary would look like.
The Jaguars did take a loss on Scott considering they invested a fourth-round pick in him in 2020 and got just six games and 80 snaps out of the former Michigan State cornerback. Ultimately, Scott saw more time with the Eagles, appearing in 13 games and recording 12 tackles and a sack.
Jameson Houston flashed for the Jaguars in camp but ultimately didn't make the roster. The Jaguars will have to wait to see what the 2023 sixth-round pick turns into, but for now the Scott trade was a case of a new regime moving on from a player they didn't pick. No plus value or clear win is found in this case.
Verdict: Jaguars take a loss.