Jaguars: Trading CJ Henderson looks like the right move

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) and Carolina Panthers CB CJ Henderson (15) (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY )
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) and Carolina Panthers CB CJ Henderson (15) (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY ) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars identified the tight end position as an area of need and traded cornerback CJ Henderson to the Carolina Panthers for Dan Arnold. Although it’s too early to judge the results of the move, the short-term results favor the Jags.

Arnold landed in Jacksonville just one day after the team’s loss to the Cardinals. He had just a couple of days to prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals but made an immediate impact, hauling in two receptions for 29 yards. All in all, he played 18 offensive snaps, 38 percent of the team’s totals. It’s possible that his playing time will increase considerably in Week 5. In fact, don’t be surprised if he doubles his number of snaps against the Tennesse Titans.

Meanwhile, Henderson’s debut with the Panthers didn’t go the way he probably expected. The ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft got beat by Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper for a deep touchdown.

Moreover, he missed a tackle and finished the game with a 41.6 Pro Football Focus overall grade. Here’s a video of the big play the former Jaguars cornerback gave up.

CJ Henderson wasn’t part of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ long-term plans.

Before the season started, reports about Henderson being available via trade surfaced. In the end, the second-year cornerback stayed in Jacksonville and quickly made his way back to the starting lineup even though he had missed a significant portion of training camp. Henderson went on to play the first two games of the 2021 season with the Jags but his performance was far from great, allowing five receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown on six targets. The fact that he suffered a groin injury against the Denver Broncos in Week 2 didn’t do him any favors and could have played a role in the team’s brass decision to ship him to Carolina.

On the other hand, Arnold was a favorite of head coach Urban Meyer back in free agency. Why didn’t the team sign him at the time? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. Maybe the front office thought the rate for his services wasn’t proportional to his production and believed there were better options available on the market. Regardless of the reason, the Jags saw an opportunity to acquire the tight end and seized it.

Could Jacksonville have used Henderson for the remainder of the year? Definitely but the truth is that tight end was an area of need after James O’Shaughnessy was placed on the injured reserve list. Even after four games, the veteran still leads the Jags’ tight ends in receptions despite the fact that he hasn’t played since Week 2. The team tried to give the unit a boost before the start of the season when they signed Jacob Hollister but he was inactive for the first two games and had a costly drop against the Cardinals in Week 3.

Henderson may very well improve and become a staple of the Panthers’ secondary. However, the Jaguars got a player that has the potential to become a key cog on the offense. Do you blame management for moving on from a player they inherited? The Jags are just trying to win games and making adjustments to the rosters should help.

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