The Jacksonville Jaguars have made a big move at the quarterback position just 15 days before Week 1.
The Jaguars named Trevor Lawrence the starting quarterback earlier this week, the expected outcome from an unexpected quarterback battle between the No. 1 overall pick and third-year quarterback Gardner Minshew.
With the battle over, the Jaguars pulled the trigger on a move many predicted would come after they earned the No. 1 overall pick -- trading Minshew. Minshew was dealt to the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional sixth-round pick on Saturday morning.
What does the Minshew trade mean for the Jaguars moving forward? We break it all down below.
The move to have Minshew take nearly half of the first-team reps in training camp looks even more curious now than it did a week ago
Competition is a good and healthy thing, but there are lines that have to be drawn. Those lines were drawn for the Jaguars this week when they named Lawrence the starting quarterback and moved to give him 100% of the first-team practice reps moving forward. That move happened more out of necessity than anything else considering Lawrence generated just three points with the starting offense in Week 2 of the preseason.
Lawrence had "won" the quarterback battle when comparing his training camp and preseason to Minshew's, but competition doesn't quite explain why the Jaguars handled Lawrence's first training camp like they did. If Minshew was a true threat to Lawrence's job (he wasn't), then why did the Jaguars deal him for a late Day 3 pick just days after declaring the battle over? And if the Jaguars were so willing to easily deal Minshew following the conclusion of the battle, then what true point was there in giving him half of the starting reps in camp over the last several weeks?
The decision to not name Lawrence the starting quarterback until this week was a fine and inconsequential one. But to have him share reps with a player for all of camp to deal that very same player for a late draft pick is a curious move. Lawrence should have gotten all of the reps sooner in camp, and this move only solidifies that thought.
Jacksonville could have (and likely should have) made a trade for Minshew before training camp. Minshew likely never had much more of a market than a sixth-round pick, but trading him before camp could have helped the Jaguars avoid the bad optics they played themselves into.
The Jaguars didn't get great value for Minshew, largely due to a dried up QB market
Gardner Minshew is a better player than what a sixth-round pick is valued at, but it isn't surprising the Jaguars didn't get more than what could be a fifth-round pick at the higher for the third-year passer. When going from team to team, most squads already had their starting quarterbacks settled, or at the very least felt good about their No. 2 role. Teams like the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks could have used Minshew, but it is unlikely a team would ever deal much for a backup quarterback when we saw starting quarterbacks go for Day 2 picks in Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold earlier this offseason.
The fact that Minshew will likely be the Eagles' No. 3 quarterback to start the season says a lot about the kind of market he had. He is an experienced starter and a good backup, but he has a limited physical ceiling and struggled heavily through the Jaguars' first two preseason games. Jacksonville likely can't be thrilled with a sixth for Minshew, but it is hard to believe they expected much more.
Jacksonville will need C.J. Beathard to be the gamer they think he is
When the Jaguars first signed C.J. Beathard in March, it was presumed he would be the No. 2 quarterback eventually considering he was guaranteed $2.75 million when he signed. But when the Jaguars shoehorned Minshew into the starting offense for half of training camp, it was widely assumed he would be the Jaguars' No. 2 quarterback -- especially after outperforming Beathard in offseason workouts.
But after two preseason games, it became more and more apparent that Beathard should be given a look as Lawrence's backup. He led the Jaguars on three of their four touchdown drives through the first two weeks of the preseason and the offense has been at its best with Beathard at quarterback. This hasn't been the case in practices, however, so it is clear that Beathard is more or less a gamer; a quarterback who looks his best when the real bullets start flying.
Jacksonville will need Beathard to be exactly that kind of quarterback. While Lawrence will start every single game he is healthy for, it is key for every team to have a component insurance plan at quarterback. Minshew has been a better quarterback than Beathard since he entered the NFL, at least all the way up to these last few weeks. The Jaguars will need to hope the Beathard of the last two games is the one they will get moving forward if they want this move to pay off.
Minshew was a heck of a sixth-round pick by Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell
While Minshew's time with the Jaguars ended in an anti-climatic fashion, it doesn't change the fact that he was a heck of a sixth-round pick by former front office executives Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell. Especially when you consider other sixth-round picks made by the team in past years, such as Tanner Lee, Jake Luton and Brandon Allen. Minshew wasn't great, and he wasn't the answer at quarterback, but you can't ask for more out of a sixth-round quarterback outside of the Tom Brady outlier.
Getting a 37-11 touchdown/interception ratio and two years of decent starting quarterback play is as good as you will get in the sixth-round, and just looking at the list of Caldwell's sixth-round picks suggests Minshew was one of his best. In terms of out-playing a draft slot, Minshew did that and more with the Jaguars, even if he was better off as a No. 2 quarterback.
How the move impacts the 53-man roster
With Minshew now off the roster, the Jaguars' 53-man roster projection has changed a good bit. It looked as if the Jaguars were going to enter the season with Lawrence, Minshew, and Beathard on the final roster, but now it appears the Jaguars will likely instead keep just two quarterbacks. Jake Luton has gotten very few reps throughout the preseason and training camp, so the subtraction at the quarterback position gives the Jaguars flexibility with the rest of the roster
What could this mean? I think the Jaguars would be interested in carrying more receivers (seven) or defensive linemen than many projected. They have several impressive players at receiver and have seen intense battles take place on the depth chart all camp, while the defensive line is arguably the deepest group on the team. If the Jaguars were going to use their extra roster spot on any position, I would bet it is one of those two.