There was a time when many thought Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell should have gotten the boot along with Gus Bradley.
The two came to Jacksonville around the same time. Caldwell, who was the Director of Player Personnel with the Atlanta Falcons prior to accepting his current position with the Jaguars, hired Bradley after Mike Mularkey stopped in for a cup of coffee and a 2-14 record in 2012.
Now, through a series of solid moves in free agency and recent NFL Draft picks, Caldwell is regarded as one of the best at what he does and a major reason why the Jaguars are where they are in the NFL hierarchy. For his efforts, Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News has ranked him as the sixth best general manager in the league.
That’s rarified air when you consider who is ahead of him on this list: Les Snead of the Los Angeles Rams (5th), Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers (4th), Rick Spielman of the Minnesota Vikings (3rd), Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (2nd) and Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles.
For those of you wondering, Iyer had Caldwell ranked 25th on this list only a year ago.
"“Patience has paid off. Caldwell slowly gathered the blocks to build a complete, elite, deep defense through the draft and with mega free agents like (Calais) Campbell, (Malik) Jackson, (A.J.) Bouye and (Barry) Church. Now he’s up to the task of piecing together more help for the running game and quarterback Blake Bortles,” Iyer wrote."
Calwell is also credited with draft classes from 2014-2018 that have included running back Leonard Fournette, tackle Cam Robinson, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., linebacker Myles Jack, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith, center Brandon Linder and wide receiver Marqise Lee.
Now, with a stockpile of players and a direction that is moving forward, will the progress lead the team to a spot in Super Bowl 53, in Caldwell’s old stomping ground in Atlanta? It’s a distinct possibility.
In many cases, the general manager, head coach, and quarterback are linked to each other for the success or failure of the organization. While all three (Caldwell, Bradley, and Bortles) were part of the lean years of this organization since Shad Khan took over as owner from Wayne Weaver in 2011, it looks as though the general manager and signal caller have weathered the storm to find success in North Florida.