Jaguars fire GM Gene Smith after 4 seasons
Knighton is one of numerous free agents who could make the Jacksonville job enticing for prospective GMs. The new GM would be able to rebuild the roster, and the Jaguars have plenty of room under the salary cap and few dead-money contracts.
Nonetheless, changes are never easy inside a locker room.
"With a year like this, you can point fingers everywhere," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "I'm not sure what the final straw was, but it happened. Kind of got to move forward and do what you do."
Smith changed the way Jacksonville approached personnel moves. He made character as important as ability, but it never paid off the way he envisioned.
Finding talent seemed to be the main issue.
Smith whiffed on offensive tackle Eben Britton (39th overall pick in 2009), defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (10th pick in 2010) and quarterback Blaine Gabbert (10th pick in 2011). Smith traded up to select Gabbert even though several teams with quarterback needs passed on the former Missouri starter.
He also drafted a punter in the third round in April, a move that was mocked locally and nationally.
Equally alarming for Khan had to be Smith's penchant for overpaying in free agency: Torry Holt, Aaron Kampman, Paul Posluszny, Clint Session, Dawan Landry, Laurent Robinson and Aaron Ross.
Smith did hit on some players, including left tackle Eugene Monroe (eighth pick in 2009), cornerback Derek Cox (73rd pick in 2009) and receivers Cecil Shorts (114th pick in 2011) and Justin Blackmon (fifth pick in 2012). But none of those starters has become a star. And Smith gave up a second-round pick to get Cox and a fourth-rounder to trade up and get Blackmon.
Smith's most controversial act came in April, when he chose punter Bryan Anger in the third round (70th pick). Anger was terrific as a rookie, but adding him never seemed like the best call for a team that needed talent and depth at so many other positions.
Smith defended the pick by saying he would "rather take a starter over a backup." Terry McDonough, the team's personnel director, challenged reporters to compare Anger to other third-rounders in four years and see who has been more productive.
Eight months later, quarterback Russell Wilson (75th pick) has Seattle in the playoffs. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are out of the postseason for the 11th time in the last 13 years. And they're looking for a new GM and maybe a new coach.
"Obviously, 2-14 isn't the season you want to kind of hang your hat on," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "When you don't produce, this is what happens."
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