#Jaguars #Trent #Baalkes #status #uncertain
The Jaguars have made a few changes to their front office hierarchy in recent years. They currently have Trent Baalke installed as their front office leader; the former 49ers GM is in his third year with the Jaguars but first as the team’s top decision-making presence.
Urban Meyer headed Jacksonville’s operation during his 11-month stay in charge, arriving after the Jaguars named Baalke interim GM. The Jags promoted Baalke to full-time GM after hiring Meyer, but the latter became the franchise’s top personnel voice. A year after Meyer’s dismissal, the Jags may not be committed to Baalke — at least not in the GM role. Rumors have emerged regarding Jags front office changes, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes, with Baalke’s status the key question mark here.
Baalke could be reassigned within the Jags’ front office, with La Canfora adding his future as the team’s GM is “very much in the balance.” This could well lead to Doug Pederson assuming more power within the organization. Baalke played a central role in the Jags hiring Pederson this year, but rumors regarding the franchise hiring another exec to outrank the current GM emerged early this offseason.
Baalke’s status as GM was believed to be turning off select coaches during what became a long-running Jags HC search, and the team interviewed longtime Vikings GM Rick Spielman for a non-GM position — but one that would have reported directly to Shad Khan. The owner was believed to be eyeing both an executive VP-type addition and a front office lieutenant that reported to Baalke. Khan ended up not hiring the former but adding an assistant GM (former 49ers exec Ethan Waugh). The team may be prepared to revisit the prospect of a new voice leading the front office.
Jacksonville’s decision-making reins have seen extensive changes since the team hired Tom Coughlin to head up the front office, effectively demoting then-GM Dave Caldwell, in 2017. The Jags then fired Coughlin in 2019, moving Caldwell back up the chain. Meyer’s hire, coming after the ousters of Caldwell and Doug Marrone, gave the successful college coach the lead role. The team hired Baalke in 2020 and promoted him to GM in January 2021, and after Meyer’s disastrous tenure, Baalke was left standing. This is Baalke’s seventh year in a GM role. He was in this position with the 49ers from 2011-16, a tenure that included three straight NFC championship game appearances but also a power struggle with Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers making back-to-back coaches (Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly) one-and-dones.
This marked a key year for the Jags’ GM role. The team held the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight year, following a slam-dunk Trevor Lawrence pick with a process that ended with high-upside talent Travon Walker being chosen over high-production pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson. Baalke and Khan were believed to be split between these two players ahead of the draft; Khan was believed to prefer Hutchinson. The Jags were also very active in free agency, filling several holes in their starting lineup.
The Jags have made a slight resurgence in recent weeks, beating the Ravens and Titans, and despite being 5-8, they are within striking distance in a weak AFC South. With Lawrence having a much better season compared to a rough rookie year, the Jags have the look of a rising team. It will be interesting if they follow through with the plan to make a major front-office change in 2023.