Urban Meyer: ‘Fresh start’ good for CJ Henderson and Jaguars

Team also signs kicker Matthew Wright to practice squad

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer watches players warm up an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (Stephen B. Morton, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Picking up the pieces on after another disappointing loss, the Jaguars tinkered with their roster in a big way Monday morning.

And they may not be done yet.

Jacksonville traded for a tight end, shipped off another first-round bust and brought in two kickers to audition for roster spots, one of whom they signed to the practice squad (Matthew Wright). All of that on a short week — the Jaguars visit the Bengals on Thursday night — as the team tries to shake an 18-game losing streak.

The big news for Urban Meyer and the Jaguars: the trade of cornerback CJ Henderson to Carolina for tight end Dan Arnold. On one hand, it gives Jacksonville a better receiving threat at its weakest position on the field. On the other, it’s a penny-on-the-dollar return on the investment in Henderson, who was the ninth overall pick last year in the final draft under Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone.

The Jaguars threw in the towel on Henderson after he played in just 10 games in his Jacksonville career. Ten games for the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft is another indictment on Jacksonville’s previous regime.

“We just think it’s the best for both,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the reason for the trade was twofold.

It gives Henderson a “fresh start” in the NFL and gives the Jaguars an upgrade at tight end — which the team desperately needs.

“I think number one is the development of Tyson Campbell he’s starting to form, what we expect him to be,” Meyer said. “He’s a very, very talented guy. You get Tre Herndon back to play nickel [off the injured list].

“And we have to improve a lot of areas of our team. Just think it might be a good, fresh start for CJ. Had a great visit with his family. I love CJ, spent a lot of time with him and his parents. And I think it’s going to be good for both of us.”

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin said moves like that are difficult, but players understand this is a job.

“As a teammate, as a friend, you know it’s tough. Then we all know, business is business. You know, we wish him the best definitely always rooting for him,” Griffin said. “Definitely a guy I’ll continue to check up on. You know, the relationship goes way beyond football, first off.”

Meyer was excited to get Arnold in the trade and infuse some new energy into the team’s weakest unit. Tight end was a black hole of a roster spot last year and didn’t get nearly enough attention in the offseason.

Jacksonville signed Chris Manhertz and drafted Luke Farrell, but both of those players are primarily blockers. Its best tight end, James O’Shaughnessy, was a serviceable receiver, but he’s out with an ankle injury. The Jaguars added Jacob Hollister in the regular season, but his debut Sunday was rough. Hollister dropped a pass that resulted in a red zone interception.

“And we’re really excited about Dan Arnold you know I wanted him out of free agency. He’s a hurdler. He’s fast. He’s big. His ball skills are very, very good to great. You know he doesn’t have a lot of receptions this year … last year, the Cardinals on tape. I wanted him,” Meyer said.

Jacksonville didn’t make any moves on struggling kicker Josh Lambo, but did bring in competition in the form of Wright. He’ll go to the practice squad. The team released receiver Phillip Dorsett II from the practice squad to make room for Wright. It also place receiver Tavon Austin on injured reserve with a designation to return.

But the kicker news remains one to watch.

Wright, a former UCF kicker, hit all four field goals for the Steelers in 2020. He was signed by the Lions in the offseason, but cut in early August. Lambo missed two point-after attempts on Sunday and is 0 for 3 on field goals this year.

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.