The Jacksonville Jaguars made a bold and era-changing move on Tuesday, releasing long-time linebacker Myles Jack after six years of Jack serving as a cornerstone on the defense.
With Jack now out of the picture in Jacksonville and the Jaguars set to look elsewhere to add to their defense under head coach Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, there are set to be a number of short- and long-term consequences.
What does the release of Jack mean for the Jaguars moving forward and what does the move say about the direction of the franchise? We break it down below.
The 2017 defense has officially come and gone
With Myles Jack released, the Jaguars now have just one defensive player on their roster who played snaps for the elite 2017 defense Jacksonville fielded: defensive end Dawuane Smoot, who was a part-time player for arguably the best defense in franchise history. The 2017 defense has long been gone and reshaped, but the release of Jack is the final nail in the coffin for the short-lived era of defensive dominance from the Jaguars.
First went Aaron Colvin and Paul Posluszny. Then Dante Fowler. Then Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church. Then, they were followed by Telvin Smith, Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Jarrod Wilson. Jack is now the final shoe to drop, signifying the reality of the 2017 defense now being a distant memory for the Jaguars as opposed to still being a part of their defensive DNA. A lot changes in the NFL in five years, and Jack’s release means that change has officially come and gone for the Jaguars.
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Jack’s play no longer matched his contract, but the Jaguars still enter the draft with the same hole at LB they already had
There is no question about the financials of the Jack move. The release of Jack will save the Jaguars $8.35 million on the cap, while the team will take on $4.8 million in dead money. Jack, who was set to earn $10.5 million in 2022, was set to have the third-highest cap hit on the Jaguars’ roster this season at $13.15 million, behind only Cam Robinson and Shaquill Griffin.
Jack’s play has not matched that level of pay in three of the last four seasons, however, and it became clear that the Jaguars weren’t getting the best bang for their buck with Jack. Perhaps that could have changed under defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, but the Jaguars; likely weren’t very enthused by what they saw from Jack on the film from the 2021 season.
Still, there is a question about what the Jaguars’ exact plan at linebacker is. The Jaguars have now subtracted Jack and Damien Wilson and added Foyesade Oluokun, which means the linebacker room is more or less as strong now as it was when the 2021 season ended. The Jaguars paid big money for Oluokun, but they now still have the same need at linebacker that they always had with the release of Jack. They could look to the draft or at in-house options such as Shaquille Quarterman or Dylan Moses, but the Jaguars took one step forward and one step backward at linebacker this March.
Jack shouldn’t be expected to be the only move the Jaguars make to shed a contract
I would be very surprised if Jack is the only veteran the Jaguars move on from in the coming days and weeks, at least in terms of big names. The Jaguars have to move around some cap space after spending big on seven free agents thus far, and making another move could give them the chance to add another free agent. There are a few moves that make sense in this regard.
Releasing center Brandon Linder would save the Jaguars nearly $10 million in cap space and would add on zero dead money, making him the most obvious cap cut. Wide receiver Marvin Jones, who could be displaced in the offense by Zay Jones, would save $3.5 million but take on $5,212,500 in dead cap. Releasing Dawuane Smoot, who may not be a fit in the new scheme, would save $4,585,294 while taking on a dead cap of $2,125,000. And defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who now seems redundant with Folorunso Fatukasi in the fold, would save $3 million while taking on $4.5 million in dead cap.
There are moves still to be made; Linder is by far the most obvious one after his struggles to stay healthy in recent years and the fact that his contract carries zero dead money. It would be a surprise if the Jaguars don’t release at least one more big-name veteran in the same manner they released Jack.