What Does David Caldwell's Hiring Mean for the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistJanuary 9, 2013

Khan got his man.
Khan got his man.Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Shad Khan got his man.

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced that former Atlanta Falcons Director of Player Personnel David Caldwell will be the new general manager of the team.

After a brief search lasting just over a week, Khan was able to convince Cadwell to pilot the Jaguars through another rebuild.

Caldwell came highly recommended by former Colts general manager Bill Polian, who had worked with him for years in Indianapolis. Caldwell was high on a number of lists and was coveted by several teams.

According to Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Caldwell was popular with league insiders and was tagged early on as the object of Khan's affections.

Caldwell has had success at both his previous stops in Atlanta and Indianapolis. He was a scout for the Colts and helped them assemble talent that dominated the AFC South for a decade. In Atlanta, he was promoted from Director of College Scouting to a role as second-in-command to GM Thomas Dimitroff. The Falcons finished 2012 with the NFC's best record.

Caldwell faces a number of challenges as he inherits the worst record and arguably the worst roster in the NFL.


Head Coach

Mike Mularkey is still the coach of the Jaguars, and Caldwell will need to evaluate his future with the club.

The good news for Jags fans is that no one is better qualified to judge Mularkey's fitness than Caldwell. Mularkey was offensive coordinator in Atlanta during Caldwell's tenure with the team, so he ought to be able to make an informed decision on which direction to take.

Retaining Mularkey would make sense on some level as the coach was greatly hamstrung by a decrepit roster and untenable quarterback situation.

Should Caldwell fire Mularkey, the Jags will have to embark on a new search. They are already a week behind on potential interviews as other teams have been actively screening candidates since the end of the season.



Caldwell's future with the team will undoubtedly be heavily influenced by whatever talent he can bring in at the quarterback position. Mistakes at the most important position on the field doomed Gene Smith with the Jaguars, so Caldwell needs to come up with a better answer than Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne.

While there have been rumors about a potential connection between Tim Tebow and the Jaguars, Caldwell will have to find a real long-term solution for the franchise.

It's unclear that such an answer can found this offseason.

As painful as it may be, the Jaguars would be better off with a stopgap quarterback, even Tebow, than they would committing to the wrong player.

With no interesting options available on the free-agent market, the Jaguars could be tempted to reach for a quarterback in the draft. They do have the second overall pick, but have already seen first hand the danger of jumping a the wrong man.


Maurice Jones-Drew

Jones-Drew is entering the final year of his contract and is coming off foot surgery and a holdout in 2012.

The former rushing champ doesn't hold much value on the trade market, but unless Caldwell is committed to bringing him back, he should deal the standout rusher.

The only question is whether Jones-Drew will have more value in training camp or before the draft. Teams may be wary of dealing for him coming off surgery, so Caldwell may be wise to let Jones-Drew prove his health in the preseason before shopping him.


Free Agency

Jacksonville has a healthy chunk of cap room available but will have to make decisions about several veteran free agents.

Darryl Smith has been a stalwart for the team for years, but spent most of the 2012 season injured. Jacksonville can't afford to overpay for an aging linebacker.

Other difficult calls include Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox, Brad Meester and Terrance Knighton. An argument could be made for or against any and all of them returning to the squad.



The Jaguars have the second overall pick in the 2013 draft, but it may not do them much good. This particular draft class has no sure things near the top the way 2012 did.

In fact, the situation is so muddled that even players that were popular mentions a month ago have fallen completely out of the top 10.

Unless Caldwell falls in love with someone worthy of the No. 2 pick, the dream scenario would be a trade down.

Of course, teams always want to trade down, but that seems like a long-shot at best.

With no obvious quarterback available, the Jags would do well to focus on a difference-making defender. 2012 could be a good year to restock the defense while the team makes do at quarterback.

With a little luck, they could then find their franchise player in 2014.

Caldwell was the perfect hire for Khan. He's got impeccable credentials with the best organizations in football. He's got solid experience as a college scout, scouting director and in pro-player positions. He's sat at the feet of the most respected GMs in the game and carries an endorsement from Polian, the best franchise builder this side of Paul Brown.

Simply put, if David Caldwell can't fix the Jaguars, no one can.