AFC South: Wayne Weaver

Khan's front office more fully formed

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
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Jaguars owner Shad Khan can call on Wayne Weaver anytime.

Jaguars president Mark Lamping can now do the same with Macky Weaver.

Macky Weaver resigned from the Jaguars' front office and will serve as a senior advisor for Jacksonville after being part of the team’s front office for all 19 years of the franchise’s existence.

Most recently, he was senior vice president of sales. He started as an account executive in corporate sponsorship and moved up to director of corporate sponsorship in December 1997 and to executive director in 2004. The final title change and responsibility shift came in April 2010.

Macky is a nephew of Wayne, and it makes sense that as Khan gets his front office fully in place that a Weaver is no longer a big part of it.

Other moves:
  • Hussain Naqi was promoted to senior vice president of fan engagement.
  • Chad Johnson was promoted to senior vice president of ticket sales.
  • Megha Parekh will join the organization March 1 as vice president and general counsel. She replaces Sashi Brown, who was hired by the Cleveland Browns last month.

Khan has now been in control of the organization since late in the 2011 season.

He’s now put Lamping in place as president, shed the GM he inherited and now has the last tie to the old ownership minimized.

He hired his own general manager, David Caldwell, who hired his own coach, Gus Bradley.

It’s Khan’s deal now. We need time to evaluate him as an owner. But his people and the plan they’ve all come up with is in place.
Regrets? Everybody’s got a few… We asked for some feedback on one thing you’d like to go back and change for each team in the AFC South.

For the Jaguars, I align with the most popular response you offered.

Here’s my biggest second-guess about the 2011 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Sticking with Jack Del Rio.

Counting on the Jaguars to make a turnaround with Del Rio at the helm and a lame duck staff was awfully optimistic. And it turned out to be a 5-11 disaster that he didn't survive long enough to finish.

Had Wayne Weaver been a bit more courageous and forward thinking, he would have seen the advantages of bringing in a new coach before a new quarterback. Then general manager Gene Smith could have had input from a coach he’d hired into the selection of a quarterback of the future.

If it was still Blaine Gabbert, then so be it. Either Gabbert or another quarterback would have a year with his coach and staff under his belt instead of surviving a terrible rookie year working under people who were on the verge of getting fired or not being renewed.

Sticking with Del Rio with unrealistic hopes that the Jaguars would make some sort of progress toward the playoffs basically sacrificed a year and a season for the franchise. Teams can't afford to sacrifice time like that.

At least, for Shahid Khan, it probably helped keep the purchase price down a bit.

Wrap-up: Jaguars 19, Colts 13

January, 1, 2012
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Thoughts on the Jaguars' 19-13 win over the Colts at EverBank Field:

What it means: At 2-14, the Colts clinched the No. 1 pick in the April draft, a selection virtually everyone believes will and should be used on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The Jaguars, meanwhile, got to send off original team owner Wayne Weaver with a victory as the team changes hands to Shahid Khan this week.

What I liked, Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew secured a single-season franchise rushing record and the NFL rushing title with a season-high 169 yards on 25 carries. He was virtually unstoppable and made it clear there was no scenario in which the Jaguars cared about what draft pick the Colts would wind up with.

What I didn’t like, Colts: After two great weeks of defense in two wins, the tackling of Jones-Drew was just horrible. And quarterback Dan Orlovsky returned to turnovers, throwing two picks and showing no clock in his head on Jeremy Mincey’s strip sack.

What I wonder: Is there any way Jim Caldwell, an honorable man who had a very bad year at work, is not part of Black Monday when coaches lose jobs?

What the Jaguars won despite: A 3.2 average gain per pass play when they averaged 5.4 yards per rush and no touchdowns in four trips into the red zone, which produced just nine points.

What’s next: In Indianapolis, a verdict on Caldwell and the Polians followed by months of speculation about whether the Colts really want to keep Peyton Manning and draft Luck. In Jacksonville, a change of team ownership and a coaching hire.
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Nose tackle Shaun Cody provides the comic relief for the Texans, says Jeffrey Martin of the Chronicle.

The field could be an issue today at Reliant Stadium after the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Saturday, says Jerome Solomon.

John McClain of the Chronicle sees a narrow Texans win.

Indianapolis Colts

This is the end of an era for the Colts, says Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star. It’s a meaningless game that’s deeply meaningful.

The Colts have been here before, and in 1997 it meant a clean sweep. Lives will change after this game, and perhaps the very fabric of the franchise, too, says Mike Chappell of the Star.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Florida Times-Union has a thorough tribute to Wayne Weaver as the Jaguars ready for their final game with him as owner. NFL fans in North Florida should always be grateful for his work to bring a team to the region.

Fred Taylor would like to see Maurice Jones-Drew surpass his record for rushing yards in a season, says Tania Ganguli of the T-U.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans need to win, then wait, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. If the day pans out for them the way they hope it will, they’ll be celebrating results that produce a playoff berth on their flight from Houston to Nashville.

To beat the Texans, Tennessee will have to handle Arian Foster a lot better than it did in the first game between the two teams, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

RTC: Colts' defense has turned it up

December, 26, 2011
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Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

If Cincinnati beats Baltimore, then the Bengals will be the Texans’ first-round playoff opponent at Reliant Stadium, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. If the Ravens win, Houston could draw the Bengals, the Titans, the Raiders or the Jets.

Indianapolis Colts

In the last 10 quarters, the Colts' defense has been excellent, says Phil Richards. They are plus-three in turnovers and have allowed conversions on just 30.3 percent of third downs.

Nate Dunlevy of 18to88.com doesn’t believe Bill Polian should be fired, but if he was arguing the case for it, here are the points he would use.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Both the Jaguars and Colts would be better off in the long term with a loss Sunday, writes Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union. But the Jaguars also have a lot of reasons to play to win: the rushing title for Maurice Jones-Drew, a big send-off for outgoing owner Wayne Weaver and a good finish for interim coach Mel Tucker.

Tennessee Titans

Defensive end Derrick Morgan is beginning to look like the guy the Titans expected when they took him in the first round in 2010, says John Glennon. He’s got 19 tackles in his past three games. The Titans need to be able to count on him to be a consistent producer moving forward.

Weaver needs to back away from Jaguars

December, 21, 2011
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Wayne Weaver made the decision to sell the Jaguars.

He’s still in control until Jan. 4, which is unfortunate. It would be best if new owner Shahid Khan took control of the franchise Jan. 2, the day after the season ends.

[+] EnlargeWayne Weaver
AP Photo/Rick WilsonWayne Weaver sold the Jaguars but remains in control of the team until Jan. 4.
That two-day gap is a lag that could prevent the team from pouncing on a new coach and that could hurt the franchise even though Khan can be, should be and will be involved in any decisions.

Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union talked to Weaver about the search for a new head coach:
“I’ll be helpful wherever I can. He’s got to hire a new coach and start planning for free agency and start planning for the draft. All that work is in progress. He needs to be a big part of that.’’

Yes, Khan needs to be a big part of it. He needs to be the biggest part of that. And in so doing, Weaver needs to be a small part of it. And by small part, I’m talking microscopic.

Weaver’s most recent hiring record is poor.

He hired and stuck with James Harris as the team’s personnel chief and Jack Del Rio as coach.

That’s not a résumé that qualifies Weaver, as an outgoing owner, for much of a say in the next hire. Weaver remained behind the scenes for most of the season and now he is visible. I fear he wants to be out front one last time.

Sorry Wayne, but Jacksonville fans should be absolutely wary of having any of your fingerprints on this move. Fresh air and a fresh viewpoint have arrived, and there is a new sheriff in town. He'll call you with questions and a smooth transfer of power will be lovely and all. But it's his deal now.

Please don’t talk about Khan being a big part of it. Talk about him being all of it as you gracefully back away.

Reading the coverage: Jaguars edition

November, 30, 2011
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Wayne Weaver said he was willing to sell to Shahid Khan because Khan is passionate about the NFL and is willing to keep the team in Jacksonville, writes Tania Ganguli of the Jacksonville Times-Union.

Khan is a business titan and a philanthropist who’s tangled with the IRS, says David Bauerlein of the T-U.

Weaver could not have left Jack Del Rio in place with three home games remaining, including next week's "Monday Night Football" matchup with the San Diego Chargers, or with the dark cloud of having a lame-duck coach running his team for another five weeks, says Gene Frenette of the T-U.

It’s time to start the process of re-energizing the franchise, says Vito Stellino of the T-U.

Jacksonville’s mayor and city leaders will welcome the new owner, say Dan Scanlan and Timothy J. Gibbons of the T-U.

The price is $760 million says Mike Ozanian of Forbes.

Did Del Rio lose his drive? Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com asks the question after learning the coach wasn’t exactly showing up before sun rise.

Gene Smith signed a three-year deal to continue on as general manager, says Ganguli.

Low-key, low-profile Mel Tucker replaces Del Rio in the interim and has been assured he will get an interview for the head job after the season, says Frenette.

While people pile on presuming Khan will eventually take the Jaguars to Los Angeles, Jason Cole of Yahoo! points out that Jacksonville has a strong hold of the team with the lease for EverBank Field.

Tim Tebow could have saved Del Rio, says Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. I don’t think either guy was part of a long-term solution for the Jaguars.

Says George Diaz of the Sentinel: “Del Rio’s firing is a microcosm for a franchise that just can’t seem to get it right since the glory days of Tom Coughlin.”

The Jaguars will have to sort out Blaine Gabbert’s future, says Chris Burke of SI.com. Sure, the cost of Gabbert’s contract doesn’t make a change prohibitive. But to use a top-10 pick on a QB a year after trading up to No. 10 to draft one does. It’s too early to judge Gabbert. And the guy who drafted him, Smith, just got a three-year contract.

AFC South Stock Watch

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
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» NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

[+] EnlargeDeji Karim
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesDeji Karim had two carries for minus-2 yards against the Texans on Sunday.
1. Deji Karim, Jacksonville Jaguars running back: He’s playing as the second back rather than the third because Rashad Jennings was lost for the year before the season. Still, Karim has been a big disappointment as the changeup from Maurice Jones-Drew. He seems to stumble a lot, and he’s averaging 2.0 yards per carry. He’s hardly bringing a dynamic element to the kick return game, either. Jones-Drew’s workload is heavy, and the Jaguars need to have a functional alternative. They currently do not.

2. Barrett Ruud, Tennessee Titans middle linebacker: He missed his second game in the Titans’ last three with a groin injury, and once he’s healthy the Titans are going to have a hard time reinstalling him. He has brought the team the leadership and understanding of the defense it needed when it signed him. But rookie Colin McCarthy is simply a more rugged player at the spot. McCarthy has done just fine calling the defense and is making a lot of the sort of plays the Titans weren’t getting from Ruud. Maybe the Titans will slide Ruud to the IR.

3. The chances for Indianapolis to compete over the next two weeks: The expectation is that the New England Patriots will happily pile on to add to their rivals' misery on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. What has been the league’s marquee matchup may wind up the league’s marquee mismatch this time around. And then the Colts will recover with a trip to Baltimore, where the Ravens will surely be thinking they can shut out Indianapolis.

RISING

1. Connor Barwin, Houston Texans outside linebacker: He set a franchise record with four sacks against the Jaguars and was phenomenally disruptive, torturing Jaguars right tackle Guy Whimper. We’ve paid a lot of attention to Brian Cushing, Antonio Smith, J.J. Watt and even Brooks Reed on the team’s defensive front. But Barwin has been a steady force and contributor. He’s the guy the team thought it was drafting in 2009 in the second round. He's a key piece to a defense that’s the primary hope of the Texans going forward now with a third-string quarterback.

2. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans running back: He exploded for 190 rushing yards in the win over Tampa Bay. Great blocking sprung him into space, and he looked like the guy we expected to be the centerpiece of Tennessee's offense when he got his big contract before the season. The question now is whether it can carry over and be a big element in what Tennessee hopes is a big five-game run to a playoff berth. Expectations that he was “back” rose after he got to 100 yards in Cleveland and Carolina, but his work against the Buccaneers looked and felt different.

3. The potential for meaningful change in Jacksonville: Wayne Weaver is selling the team to Shahid Khan. Weaver wasn’t about to hire a high-priced coach after the interim five-game stint of Mel Tucker wound down. Could new ownership be more willing to look at a broader pool of candidates and to pay a name? Despite what Weaver said, Khan certainly had to have a voice in the move to dump Jack Del Rio, since the announcements of the coaching change and the sale come on the same day. GM Gene Smith, who got a new contract, will have a big hand in the choice. What kind of budget will there be?

Notes from Weaver's press conference

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
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Notes from Wayne Weaver’s news conference at which he announced he fired Jack Del Rio as head coach, installed defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as the interim coach, given general manager Gene Smith a new three-year contract, and is selling the team to Shahid Khan.

  • Weaver said it would have been unfair to allow Del Rio to “twist in the wind,” thanked him for his nine years with the team and wished him well.
  • Weaver said the team has been average in recent years, that the city deserves better and that the Jaguars are not far from being a competitive football team. He praised the defense and said the offense can be fixed in the next offseason and with another draft or two.
  • Weaver promised Tucker the opportunity to interview for the head coaching job after the season. The owner called the new coach one of the team’s bright spots.
  • The coaching search will be extensive, and Weaver will have a hand in it even if the team has changed ownership. He indicated they'd look at experienced coaches and up-and-comers.
  • Extending Smith provides the organization some stability in football operations and Smith has the power to re-sign his people in the front office, Weaver said.
  • The exit strategy Weaver’s spoken of in the past came together faster than he expected with Khan. Roger Goodell has given his nod and Weaver sees smooth sailing through the NFL’s ownership committee and owners, who could approve the deal at a Dec. 14 meeting. The sale is then slated to close Jan. 4. Weaver turns 77 in January and said he and his wife will travel, that he will be the team’s biggest cheerleader and offer any help Shah requests.
  • Weaver on LA suitors: "I've had calls from California that I've just refused to take." Also: "There is not a doubt in my mind this team is going to be in Jacksonville" under Khan's ownership.
  • Weaver said it was bittersweet in many ways, but a positive day all around.

Jaguars' new owner will be Shahid Khan

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
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The official statements from the Jacksonville Jaguars:

SHAHID KHAN:

"I am honored to have recently signed an agreement with Wayne Weaver and his partners to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars. I have known Wayne for some time and have long admired his spirit, which nearly 20 years ago -- against all odds -- helped make the Jaguars and the National Football League a reality for Jacksonville and North Florida. Wayne’s legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne’s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community.

"Owning a team in the National Football League has long been my personal and professional goal. Becoming the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars would be a dream come true for me and my family but, above all, would be a privilege. To that end, I would like to thank Commissioner Roger Goodell and members of his team for their counsel and guidance throughout my efforts over the past several years.

"I am now looking forward to the review process in accordance with league policy. If the proposed transaction is approved in the weeks ahead, I will responsibly and enthusiastically serve the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars and their great fans, and I will be fully committed to delivering Jacksonville its first Super Bowl championship. This is a franchise with tons of potential, playing in a community that is passionate about football and loves to win. I can’t think of a better place to be."

WAYNE WEAVER:

"Shahid Khan is a great American success story and he will be an outstanding owner for this franchise and for this community. I am excited for the team and for our great fans because Shahid will bring passion and commitment to the job. He is committed to restoring a winning tradition here in Jacksonville."

Jaguars being sold, GM Smith extended

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
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The Jaguars' big news day goes far beyond the firing of coach Jack Del Rio and the appointment of defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as interim coach.

Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are also reporting that Wayne Weaver is selling the team to a as-yet-unrevealed buyer who will keep the team in Jacksonville and that general manager Gene Smith has agreed to a three-year contract extension.

FedEx founder Fred Smith has reportedly talked to Weaver about a role with the team and could be the buyer.

Whoever it is certainly had a voice in decisions about Del Rio and Smith.

And I believe Smith wouldn’t be signing a deal if he didn’t have the power to hire the next head coach.

What sort of budget will he have?

Weaver is talking at noon ET. Stay tuned for more.
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

Jeff Garcia and Jake Delhomme are the primary candidates to be the quarterback the Texans add, writes John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. But the newcomer will compete to be the backup to T.J. Yates at the start.

Andre Johnson might not be as big a factor going forward as many of us think, says Lance Zierlein of the Chronicle’s blogs.

Indianapolis Colts

Will the Patriots' general dislike of the Colts prompt them to run up the score on Sunday if they have the chance? Mike Chappell examines the idea while discussing the opening 21-point spread.

Bill Polian disputed a report that Peyton Manning’s future is grim, says Phil Richards of the Star. Talking about Marvin Harrison Sunday, Manning indicated he’d have a checkup and an update this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Wayne Weaver showed how patient he can be again on Monday, when a coaching change some expected did not materialize, writes Vito Stellino of the Times-Union. “(Jack Del Rio) is the only coach in NFL history to fail to win a division title in his first nine seasons.”

The entire passing offense needs to be addressed; it’s not going to be solved by adding one receiver, says John Oehser of jaguars.com.

Tennessee Titans

Mike Munchak isn’t ready to declare the run game fixed, but he likes the direction it’s heading, writes Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. The Titans’ next three opponents don’t defend the run well.

The Titans have to worry about winning their games, not the Texans’ quarterback issues, Munchak said. Wyatt's story.

If Jaguars change coach, who's next?

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
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Jack Del RioAP Photo/John RaouxIf the Jaguars replace Jack Del Rio, it makes sense to hire an offensive-minded head coach.
Ten weeks into most NFL seasons we have a good sense of head-coaching jobs coming open and the prime candidates for them.

This year feels different.

Jim Caldwell may coach a potential 0-16 team. But to hear Bill Polian talk, the Colts’ coach may well survive. In Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio’s got one year left on his contract and a lame-duck staff.

It’s widely held that Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver will make a change if he judges the team to have shown insufficient improvement this season, and it’s hard to envision a giant turnaround now for the 3-6 Jaguars based on how poorly the offense is producing.

As for prime head-coaching candidates, I sense no buzz about the hot, young offensive assistant who’s the next big thing. In previous years -- no matter if they panned out or not -- we’ve seen guys like Josh McDaniels, Jason Garrett, Todd Haley and Ken Whisenhunt tabbed as up-and-comers who were ready.

Who are those guys now?

While Northern Florida might hold out hope that Weaver will want a name and would be able to lure one, I don’t see Bill Cowher or even Jeff Fisher heading for EverBank Stadium.

The franchise should re-sign general manager Gene Smith, allow him to decide on Del Rio and make the recommendation on the next coach.

And if Smith's in the market, that next coach should be a young offensive mind who likes Blaine Gabbert and has the best shot at developing him. Smith needs to hit a home run finding the next Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton or, this year aside, Andy Reid.

I asked around this week, talking to a couple coaches and an executive about which NFL assistant qualifies as a QB guru who’s ready to be a head coach.

Through those conversations, I present this list of possibilities:

Mike Mularkey, Atlanta offensive coordinator -- Mularkey posted a 14-18 record as Buffalo's head coach in 2004-05. But he’s got enough distance from that now that he could be worthy of a second act.

He took over as offensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2008, when quarterback Matt Ryan was a rookie. He has a bruiser of a running back in Michael Turner to go with Ryan. Ryan became just the second rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards, and the Falcons won 11 games.

There is a connection to Smith: Mularkey’s son, Patrick, is a scouting assistant in Jacksonville’s player personnel department.

Jay Gruden, Cincinnati offensive coordinator -- Gruden’s done fantastic work this season with rookie QB Andy Dalton. But is one good year enough to vault him to a head coaching job?

He worked on his brother Jon’s staff in Tampa Bay from 2002-08, but as an offensive assistant he wasn’t a year-round guy. He stacked the work on top of his duties quarterbacking and then coaching the Orlando Predators of the AFL.

Jay Gruden has head coaching experience in the AFL and the UFL, where he led the Florida Tuskers to the 2010 championship game as head coach and GM.

Word is he’s different than his brother, calmer with a better presence with his players.

Rob Chudzinski, Carolina offensive coordinator -- His first tour as an offensive coordinator came in Cleveland from 2007-08. The 2007 Browns won 10 games with Derek Anderson shining at quarterback.

Now Chudzinski’s been lauded for his work with Cam Newton, revising and shaping the offense to feature what the rookie quarterback does best. He’s got a strong background with tight ends, too, and is regarded as a rising star by many around the league.

He’s also a quieter, unassuming type.

Tom Clements, Green Bay quarterbacks coach -- Clements worked in the same post for New Orleans (1997-99), Kansas City (2000) and Pittsburgh (2001-03). During those stops he worked with Tommy Maddox during his comeback player of the year season in 2002 and with Kordell Stewart and Elvis Grbac during their best seasons.

He also worked as offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2004 and 2005.

With Green Bay, Clements guided Brett Favre in his final Packers' years while helping prepare Aaron Rodgers. He’s also had a hand in the progress of highly regarded backup Matt Flynn.

But does he have the qualities of a good head coach?

Pete Carmichael, New Orleans offensive coordinator -- He’s in his third year as Payton’s top offensive lieutenant after three seasons as the Saints' quarterbacks coach.

Carmichael’s been closely involved with an offense that has excelled with Drew Brees as quarterback, with a specific role in routes, protection schemes and quarterback responsibilities.

Like Clements in Green Bay, Carmichael works for a strong coach with an offensive background and so he doesn’t function as the play-caller. While very smart, he comes across as bland and that could be a big issue for a guy expected to be the face and the personality of a franchise.
The future of the Jaguars front office and coaching staff is uncertain, but owner Wayne Weaver made it clear before the season that he wanted to keep Gene Smith in place as the general manager.

[+] EnlargeGene Smith
AP Photo/John RaouxThe contract that Gene Smith signed after being promoted to Jacksonville's GM in January 2009 expires after this season.
Gene Frenette of the Times-Union reports that Smith was offered an extension of his contract, which expires after the season, during the offseason.

Smith, in an exclusive interview with the Times-Union, said he turned it down because he felt uncomfortable adding years to his contract when Jaguars’ scouts and other employees were either not getting extensions or subjected to salary freezes. Smith’s original contract that he signed after being promoted to GM in January 2009, expires after this season. He did not divulge specifics about the length of the extension offer, adding that the NFL’s uncertain labor future at the time also impacted his decision to pass on an extension.

“A contract was extended to me and I declined it,” Smith said. “I did not think I deserved an extension based on the conditions. Our scouts and other employees weren’t being extended. I didn’t think I deserved it. However, I do appreciate that Wayne [Weaver] offered me one.”


Coach Jack Del Rio is the only coach or member of the front office with a contract that runs beyond this season. His deal runs through 2012 and pays him $5 million this season and next.

Smith is as sincere an executive as can be found in the NFL, and surely scores with the people who work for him with what he did here -- not that he had that as an objective.

Weaver confirmed to Stellino that an offer was made and turned down. It's unclear what the owner's plan is going forward, but I suspect a guy slow to change will make Smith another offer after the season.

The verdict on Smith as a personnel chief is still out, and will largely be determined by whether Blaine Gabbert pans out as the Jaguars' quarterback. Smith traded up to take Gabbert 10th overall in April, and so far Gabbert has struggled.

The GM and QB are tied together and it would make little sense for the Jaguars to make a change from Smith so long as they believe in the rookie as a long-term solution. A new GM would have a new judgment on Gabbert, and if he doesn’t like him, then the team’s clock would be reset again.

Smith has been with the organization since the very beginning, and Weaver clearly feels a loyalty to him. The question is if he would chase a new coach who would want personnel power.

“I’d like to be here long-term, I’d like to finish what we started,” Smith said. “I feel like I work for one of the best organizations. I’ve invested a good part of my life here, but I also realize transition is a way of life in the NFL.”
The Jaguars have very limited weapons for Blaine Gabbert, even if you include the tight ends and backs with the receivers.

But they’ve ensured the best receiver they have will be able to build a long-term relationship with Gabbert. Per John Clayton, Jacksonville has given Mike Thomas a three-year contract that stacks on top of what remained through 2012 on his original deal.

The three new years are worth $18 million with $9 million guaranteed. It’s unknown how much of that he’s getting as he signs.

It’s a good move. Thomas is a quality player who is going to look better in time when the Jaguars improve the group around him. He fits their mold in terms of work ethic and personality and he’s a good player.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. is a big fan, and he’s told me before that he thinks Thomas will ultimately prove to be some sort of combination of Carolina’s Steve Smith and New England’s Wes Welker.

If he approaches anything like that, his third contract will make this one look small.

One other aside: GM Gene Smith and the front office are not signed beyond this year. That owner Wayne Weaver is allowing them to negotiate such an extension might be read as a good indication about their futures.

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