Are the Jaguars bluffing on Geno Smith?
The Jacksonville Jaguars started the offseason by saying they’re going to stick with Blaine Gabbert through thick and thin, but then they did an about-face reaping praise on Geno Smith at his Pro Day. The Jags’ General Manager David Caldwell, Head Coach Gus Bradley and even their offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch were in attendance West Virginia’s Pro Day. Bradley met with Geno Smith at the Pro Day and told Jim Corbertt of USA Today, that he was impressed with his accuracy. However, are the Jaguars really interested, or are they just trying to drum up enough buzz to force a team to trade up to get Smith? The Minnesota Vikings in 2012 did exactly the same kind of strategy by continually bringing up Adrian Peterson’s knee injury to the point that the Cleveland Browns traded up to get Trent Richardson.
The Vikings acquired the Browns’ 4th overall pick, 4th round, 5th round and 7th round selections in return for their 3rd overall pick, and laughed all the way to the bank, because Adrian Peterson recorded his best season of his career in 2012, including almost beating the NFL’s single-season rushing yards record. Could the Jaguars be pulling the same strategy to get more draft picks? I don’t think so. Blaine Gabbert is not a cap issue, because his contract was based after the C.B.A. created the rookie salary cap in 2011. Cutting Gabbert in 2013 would only count $3,818,705 against the Jags’ current cap.
And let’s face the facts on Gabbert. Putting faith on Gabbert to get substantially better in 2013 is a statement based more on hope than optimism. The Jags will have a chance to draft various quarterbacks in the latter rounds, but none are as Pro ready as Geno Smith. In the fact the only player will any hope out of this class to become a franchise quarterback is Geno Smith. The Jags will also have nothing to lose.
The rookie salary cap has altered the landscape of what NFL teams do in the draft, and has even affected free agency. Giving Geno Smith a 4-year 24 million dollar contract is cheap for a quarterback that could be a franchise. An investment of that magnitude is well worth the potential of Smith, and Gabbert can fight for his job, but if Smith beats him out, then he didn’t deserve the job in the first place. This Smith love by the Jags’ organization may be a bunch of malarkey, but it may also be real. The Jags don’t have a proven quarterback, and if Smith is the guy, then the Jags should definitely draft him with the 2nd overall pick.
James Cobern is a Featured Journalist for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.