There may not be a more unpopular figure in Duval than Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke, but is the hate really deserved? Probably, but Gregg Rosenthal of NFL Media tried to be as objective as possible when ranking him and other general managers around the league.
Rosenthal ranked all NFL general managers. Brandon Beane of the Buffalo Bills landed in the top spot and Les Snead of the Los Angeles Rams finished second. Meanwhile, Baalke was listed as “too new” and went unranked. Still, Rosenthal shared his thoughts on him.
"Trent Baalke, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars made the curious decision to elevate Baalke following the more curious decision to hire Urban Meyer. It was even more surprising that the team kept Baalke this year, rather than completely starting over. He spent the Jaguars’ money in free agency like a man who knows he’s not guaranteed to have the company credit card forever."
Rosenthal didn’t take Baalke’s tenure as the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2016 under consideration. Otherwise, he would have probably gotten a low spot in the ranking. Rosenthal does bring an important point, it was a curious decision to promote Baalke from director of player personnel to general manager after holding the position on an interim basis when the Jags moved on from David Caldwell.
General manager Trent Baalke must prove the Jaguars right in 2022.
Owner Shad Khan has displayed patience with the team’s general managers, giving Caldwell and his predecessor, Gene Smit, more time than they should have gotten. Similarly, he showed support for Baalke this offseason, stating that he wasn’t interested to move on from him even though it was an unpopular move among Jaguars fans. In fact, Khan’s decision to keep Baalke probably played a role in the Jags not hiring Byron Leftwich as the head coach, even though he was the favorite for the job and both parties seemed close to reaching an agreement.
So why is Khan keeping Baalke? Not because of his success as a general manager. That’s for sure. The Jags’ 2021 rookie class looks promising but his track record going back to the San Francisco 49ers isn’t particularly enticing. Back in the Bay Area, he had 61 draft picks in the span of six years but he wasn’t able to find many difference-makers with them. Maybe Khan believes Baalke can have a successful haul in consecutive drafts.
Another negative surrounding Baalke is his reputation around the league. Back with the Niners, he partook in a power struggle with head coach Jim Harbaugh. Moreover, he’s seen as someone who is difficult to work with, which could eventually become an issue. So far, he’s developed a good rapport with Doug Pederson but their relationship might deteriorate down the rod if he’s indeed
Ultimately, acing the 2022 draft is what will help Baalke keep his job. If he doesn’t a good job, nobody will second guess Khan’s decision to keep him around but if he fails, he will rightfully be questioned.