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Where Does Jaguars' Trent Baalke Rank Among Front Office Leaders?

Where does Trent Baalke come in on a ranking of the NFL's 32 general managers?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have gotten some love this offseason for their improved coaching staff and the hiring of former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

But their decision to retain general manager Trent Baalke? It has received a bit less love, even after the Jaguars revamped their roster this offseason. The latest example of this is Pro Football Network's ranking of all 32 NFL front offices, where Baalke finds himself near the bottom of the list.

PFN recently ranked Pederson as the 11th-best head coach in the NFL, but Baalke and the Jaguars find themselves at No. 26 overall when stacked against his peers in the NFL's other front offices. 

The only front offices that the Jaguars and Baalke were ranked over by PFN were the Carolina Panthers (ranked No. 27). Meanwhile, the final five spots are taken up by new front offices with first-year general managers, essentially meaning the Jaguars were placed in the actual second-to-last spot.

"Having somehow retained his job in Jacksonville, Baalke set about lighting money on fire in free agency," PFN wrote. 

"The Jaguars gave Christian Kirk an absurd $18 million per year, but deals for Brandon Scherff ($16.5 million), Foyesade Oluokun ($15 million), Folorunso Fatukasi ($10 million), and Zay Jones ($8 million) were nearly as egregious. Trevor Lawerence and Doug Pederson will have to pull this franchise out of the abyss."

This is a rather negative and extreme stance on Baalke and the Jaguars' front office, but for better or worse it likely tracks with what most national outlets think about the Jaguars' offseason. 

The Jaguars were among the biggest spenders not just this offseason, but in NFL history. Baalke spent a lot last March, but 2022 saw him take it a step considerably further. There is always risk involved with paying in March, and it seems like executives get praised more for making value moves than they do for making big-money moves that move the needle.

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Jacksonville couldn't make value moves, though. They simply had to spend this offseason with hopes of improving the roster around Trevor Lawrence. If the Jaguars had to choose between overpaying to raise the floor and ceiling of the roster or run it back with a similar roster and better value in free agency, and the choice is clear. 

It is also worth noting the Jaguars don't have the exact front office they had last year. Baalke is still leading the unit, but head coach Doug Pederson is playing a considerable role, while assistant general manager Ethan Waugh is a fresh addition who will undoubtedly have a big say in how Jacksonville operates. 

With fairness to PFN, though, the Jaguars' themselves entered this offseason saying they needed to upgrade their front office. In a true ranking of front offices in terms of sheer depth and facilities, it would be hard to make an argument for some of the last few Jaguars teams.

"Well, one of the reasons we had the search was not only looking for the head coaching candidate but really to learn about other organizations. I mean, that's a by-product of the coaching search," Jaguars owner Shad Khan said at Pederson's introductory press conference.

"So some of the practices, some of the structure that works, we got a great insight into it. So strengthening the football operations, more staff, definitely, that's part of our goal. So I mean, we've had too flat an organization, and we want to add brainpower and more people to strengthen that.