mandatory credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA Today Sports
No. Absolutely not. No way. Michael Sam is a quality, young defensive end with plenty of upside but the Jacksonville Jaguars are pretty much set along their defensive line. Barring injuries, the Jags shouldn’t be in the market for a player like Sam.
I was avoiding writing a post about the Michael Sam cut and his coming to the Jaguars until I started seeing it pop up all over the internet. This is really nothing new as Sam has been linked to the Jaguars by some blogs and websites well before the draft. But with Michael Sam being cut by the St. Louis Rams, there are more and more sites jumping at the chance to pair Sam to the Jags. This being a Jaguars site, it’s our duty to chat about something that is rapidly becoming popular. So let’s dive in!
I’m going to come out right away and say that I like Sam and I think he will be a help to whatever team he ends up on. I think he could do well in the black and teal. I think he could really learn the game under head coach Gus Bradley’s tutelage. He turned in a decent preseason and showed he has the work ethic to grow in the areas where he is weak. But I don’t think that him coming to the Jaguars makes any sense right now. The article I’m going to dissect to chat about this will be this one from NFL Spin Zone.
First off, I’m going to say that I like the article and I like the writing of Evan Massey. I think that his five teams he suggest Sam go to are, for the most part, just fine selections. But like many other articles, the analysis of the Jaguars is a little slim. He writes:
"The Jaguars are in the middle of a rebuilding process that is a couple of years away from being able to compete and Sam would be able to fit into that young nucleus very well. Jacksonville is looking to build with a defense first mentality, and they would likely be interested in Sam’s ability to rush the passer."
Massey is partly right in his analysis. The Jags are always open to a quality pass rusher off the edge. But overlooked here is that coach Bradley is so incredibly interested in competing right now that he isn’t looking for a development project like Sam who isn’t versatile enough to fill other roles right now. Sam lost out on a roster spot with the St. Louis Rams in part because he is purely a pass rushing defensive end and doesn’t have the versatility that coach Jeff Fischer was looking for in depth on the defensive line. The Jaguars are in a similar situation right now. Sam doesn’t come in immediately and make the Jaguars a better pass rushing team and he doesn’t offer enough versatility to bring him on as general depth along the defensive line.
This is where a lot of analysis of “Sam to Jaguars” stumbles. The Jaguars are very interested in growing their own talent, giving snaps to players they brought in because they see bright futures for them, and ensuring that the guys who filling important positions – especially the all important pass rushing “Leo” spot – will help the team compete here and now.
Massey goes on to agree with my assessment that Sam would glean a lot of knowledge and develop well under Bradley. He also continues on saying that the Jaguars may be happy with their current roster, which I also believe to be true. This is another sticking point that many outside of the fan base and Jacksonville don’t notice often enough: general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Bradley are seeing progress from the players they have and they like what they are seeing.
Overall, I wish Sam the best and I hope that he finds a successful career in the NFL (outside of the Jaguars’ division rivals, of course) but I don’t see the Jaguars signing him right now. The Jaguars have a look that the team seems settled on along the defensive line. For now, let’s put the “Sam to Jaguars” ideas to bed.
Note: As of the time of this writing, Sam has cleared waivers but not signed onto another team’s roster or practice squad.