Jacksonville Jaguars Race to Purge Gene Smith's Mistakes

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistMarch 8, 2013

Ross is looking for a new home.
Ross is looking for a new home.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

All too often the optimism of free agency ends in the ignominy of a Friday afternoon release.

The Jacksonville Jaguars took another step toward distancing themselves from the "delusional" free-agent spending of former general manager Gene Smith by announcing they've released two recent signings.

The team announced via direct press release that they are parting ways with Aaron Ross and Dawan Landry. Both players were brought in to bolster the defense, but as the Jaguars plummeted to the bottom of the NFL, they became expendable.

Landry signed two years ago for $27.5 million. He collected just over $11 million in two years before being released. The Jaguars save $5.4 million real dollars next year, but will still have to eat $3.9 million in dead money that negates most of the savings.

Landry started at strong safety for two years, unlike Ross, who was with the team for one spotty season. Ross signed a three-year $9.75 million deal a year ago. Considering he struggled all season and lost his starting role, the move was to be expected.

The moves have left the Jaguars with plenty of cap space (Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union pegs it a $30 million), but huge holes as well.

Although general manager David Caldwell has cautioned that the team isn't likely to be active in the free-agent market, some players will obviously have to be signed, as the number of defensive backs on the roster is perilously low.

The moves weren't surprising, and in the case of Ross, weren't strictly financial.

Smith gave out big money to too many players who played too little or too poorly to merit the investment.

Despite plenty of cap space, it's unlikely Caldwell falls into the same traps.

Salary information courtesy of Sportrac.com.