Shad Khan On Roster Control and His Increased Role With the Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has typically taken a hands off approach to managing the Jags organization. After lessons of the last two years, he's changing his tactics and is making his involvement known to all head coach and general manager candidates.
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Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has had a history of keeping his hands off the club’s roster during his eight-year tenure.

After one of the more strenuous offseason’s in franchise history that saw Khan make the tough decision to retain (former) head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell while firing Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, the owner and businessman realized he needed to take a more hands-on approach to his investment.

“Last season, especially after Tom [Coughlin]’s departure, he had the roster control, so I kept the roster control,” Khan told local reporters on Monday.

Now with both Caldwell and Marrone recently relieved of their duties, Khan is on the search for a new duo to lead his franchise. However, he doesn’t want a repeat of past mistakes—his own or from the front office. So he’s informing candidates of his involvement up front.

“The candidates, the general manager candidates, I’ve been talking to them, [I told them that] for the immediate future I’m going to keep the roster control. I want the coach to know that also.”

When potential candidates hear that declaration it’s easy for the mind to jump to Jerry Jones. The Dallas Cowboys owner is also the club’s self-appointed GM and has complete oversight of his roster, with final say on nearly any decision a head coach can make.

The dynamic can create tension in a business predicated on strong personalities. But Khan maintains he doesn’t want to pull the puppet strings of his future GM and/or head coach. He wants to instead remain involved in decisions which he had previously been kept out of, despite their impact on the franchise.

“The roster control is [because] you don’t want players going in and out or contracts given until you’re aware of that. So striking the balance between delegation and abdication, I think, is an important point. Certainly, I found that in the last 15 months, having that necessitates a conversation, you’re part of the conversation with the GM and the head coach. So being part of that here for the immediate future I think is important to me.”

In other words, Khan felt he was in the dark for too many past decisions and doesn’t want that to happen again. He took over Coughlin’s part in those roster decisions—contracts, deals, trades, etc.—working alongside Caldwell and Marrone over this past season. 

To provide some continuity during a massive transition, he will maintain roster control, while “striking the balance”—to use his words—between simply assigning duties in the future versus completely handing them over, the latter of which caused the initial problem in recent years.

“It’s not really [about] who’s coming in, but it’s to really have a rhythm that everybody’s aligned on who might be leaving the team and who might be coming in, at least for the immediate future. Those are some of nuances that I want to make sure that everybody’s on board with because I think it’s really important here that we don’t head off in a wrong direction with an imbalance in power, for lack of a better word. So I hope that kind of explains some of the logic.”

To save any confusion, Khan is also running point on the hiring of both open positions. Some franchises choose to bring in outside search committees, but Khan says the decision will start and stop with him.

“I’ve gone through the rite of passage as a new owner coming into the league. The advisors, consultants, whatever, we did that. This time around, I think I have a much better sense myself. So I am the key decision-maker, but we do have people at the Jaguars. [Team President] Mark Lamping would be one who will be working with these people, so they will be involved from that viewpoint. But when it comes to who the key decision-maker is going to be, I mean, you’re looking at him.”

After years of purposely staying in the shadows, Khan is stepping front and center in the Jacksonville Jaguars organization and plans on staying there…at least for the time being.