Changes begin: Jaguars fire GM Dave Caldwell

Team had losing records in 7 of his 8 seasons

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell talks with reporters during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine. (AP photo by Doug McSchooler)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Shad Khan is hitting the reset button, finally pulling the plug on the Dave Caldwell era with the Jaguars.

After eight seasons as the team’s general manager, all but one of them under .500, Caldwell was fired on Sunday evening a little over an hour after the team lost its 10th consecutive game.

Khan announced the decision in a statement, saying the Jaguars need “new leadership.”

“I’ve met with Dave Caldwell to express my appreciation for his service to the Jacksonville Jaguars as our general manager. Dave was exceptionally committed and determined to bring a winner to Jacksonville, but unfortunately his efforts were not rewarded with the results our fans deserve and our organization expects. Our football operation needs new leadership, and we will have it with a new general manager in 2021,” Khan said.

Until a new general manager is hired, Trent Baalke will serve as interim GM. Baalke has worked for more than 20 years in the NFL. The Jaguars hired him as the team’s Director of Player Personnel at the end of last season.

((Courtesy: The Jacksonville Jaguars))

Coach Doug Marrone was not fired, although with a new general manager incoming, that is inevitable. The Jaguars are 1-10 and enter next week’s game at Minnesota on a 10-game losing streak.

Caldwell’s tenure was woeful.

In nearly eight seasons, Caldwell leaves with a record of 37-86, one season above .500 and more first-round draft busts than Jaguars fans care to recall.

Caldwell was hired in 2013 to help the franchise chart a new course after a miserable track record under Gene Smith. Smith was fired after Jacksonville posted a 2-14 mark in 2012, the worst in franchise history.

Caldwell inherited a mess from the Smith/Jack Del Rio/Mike Mularkey regime, but he didn’t exactly clean things up. Among the first-round picks of his include a list of reaches, busts and players who were dealt or cut.

Caldwell’s first-rounders: Luke Joeckel (No. 2 in 2013), Blake Bortles (No. 3 in 2014), Dante Fowler (No. 3 in 2015), Jalen Ramsey (No. 5 in 2016), Leonard Fournette (No. 4 in 2017), Taven Bryan (No. 29 in 2018), Josh Allen (No. 7 in 2019) and CJ Henderson (No. 9) and K’Lavon Chaisson (No. 20) this year.

After reaching the AFC championship game in 2017, the Jaguars have been in a nosedive. The Jaguars finished 5-11 in 2018, 6-10 in 2019 and are poised for another terrible finish this year. Their loss Sunday was their 10th straight, the most in a single season in franchise history.

Jacksonville fired executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin last December after the NFL Players Association issued a scathing rebuke of the franchise and Coughlin’s methods, which included excessive fines for players. Khan opted to retain Caldwell and Marrone, despite their track record with the franchise.

The Jaguars jettisoned multiple players in the offseason, including $88 million free agent quarterback signee Nick Foles, defensive end Calais Campbell and multiple other impact players. The roster entered the year as the league’s youngest and that inexperience has shown, especially as injuries have piled up.

Jacksonville’s roster purge and heavy rookie presence will ultimately help whomever is running the team in 2021. According to Spotrac, the Jaguars are projected to have a league-high $78.5 million in cap room next year, a significant number that could aid in a quick turnaround. The cap likely to be reduced because of lost revenue due to COVID-19 concerns.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.