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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Lesson from Thomas deal: Be right

By Paul Kuharsky

A few thoughts after further contemplating the Jaguars' trade of Mike Thomas to the Lions for an as-yet undisclosed draft pick.

I wrote Tuesday that the Jaguars had jumped too soon in locking up Thomas with a five-year pact early last season. In the long view, that’s true.

But they thought they had a player who was going to be a very good piece for them and that they were locking him up early with what would turn out to be a very reasonable deal when he panned out as they expected.

Mike Thomas
The Jaguars paid Mike Thomas a $3.5 million roster bonus before the season and got just 13 catches from him to show for it.
I don’t blame them for spending the money, and based on my early impression and the opinion of Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. -- he thought Thomas could combine some of the qualities of Carolina’s Steve Smith and New England’s Wes Welker -- locking Thomas up seemed like a good idea.

If you’re the Jaguars, though, you have to make a more accurate read and projection. Sure, you are going to miss sometimes. When you do, we’re going to hit you for it.

But it’s not really the overspending that is the issue here. The Jaguars had and have the cap room, and signing Thomas didn’t prevent them from spending in free agency last season. (They could have done more, but you can say that about virtually every team.) Though you don't want to burn money, even the best teams do it some.

My complaint, then, is that they failed to anticipate how the deal would impact Thomas. They failed to see how he and Blaine Gabbert would connect, or, more accurately, fail to connect. Then, with new coaches in place, they failed to accurately gauge Thomas' value to them in the context of the rest of their receiver group. They burned more money, paying him a $3.5 million roster bonus in March.

So they gave him that $3.5 million plus about $680,000 of his 2012 base salary for 13 catches, 80 yards and whatever draft pick Detroit gave up for him.

Spend the money. Heck, spend more. But spend it on the right people.

You’re going to miss sometimes on personnel decisions. More often, you have to not miss. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey seems to be coming back to life, and although it's just eight games in, I rank that re-signing as a good one.

Regime change might be coming. This front office or the next needs to make the right call on guys regarded as core players who are heading toward free agency, starting with left tackle Eugene Monroe and cornerback Derek Cox.