Linebacker Telvin Smith was an integral part of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ playoff run in 2017, which is why it was surprising to see him suddenly step away from football after the conclusion of the 2018 season. Since and before his retirement, the Jags haven’t drafted many difference-makers, which is why Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus dubbed him their best value pick over the last 18 years.
Renner recently put together a list of players “who outperformed their draft slot” and exceed expectations. Smith was among those who made the cut. Renner says he didn’t have many options due to the Jaguars’ less-than-stellar draft acumen since 2006. On the other hand, he believes they got bang for their buck with Smith.
It’s slim pickings when looking over the Jaguars’ draft history since 2006. Nonetheless, finding a player of Smith’s caliber all the way down in the fifth round was a big win. In his five seasons before he abruptly retired, Smith averaged just over 55 stops per season — a figure that would have ranked fourth among all linebackers last season.
Smith was the 144th overall pick in the 2014 draft and went on to appear in 76 games with 69 starts during his five-year stint in Jacksonville. He finished his career with 587 total tackles, 52 tackles for a loss, 26 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and nine interceptions. His performance earned him a four-year contract worth $44 million in 2017, which wasn’t enough to persuade him to keep playing the game in 2019.
Telvin Smith’s run with the Jaguars was brief but dominant
Even though Smith’s career has been over for a while, he’s still made the headlines every now and then, and not for good reasons. The police were called to perform a search warrant on his house in 2019. The following year, he was slapped with charges of unlawful contact with a minor and got three years probation for it. Lastly, the former linebacker was cited for animal neglect in 2020.
Last offseason, Smith posted a cryptic message on social media that simply stated, “it’s time”. It’s unknown what he meant with the message but if he hinted at a potential return to the football field, the Jags could have certainly used him. However, things can change significantly in the NFL from one year to the next, and Jacksonville is currently stacked at linebacker, so if he wanted to come back from retirement this year, it wouldn’t probably be for the Jaguars.
And if that were the case, Smith might not be interested since he’s previously said that he wouldn’t be interested in suiting up for any other club. He’s currently 31 and a return wouldn’t be particularly shocking. Nevertheless, it seems highly unlikely at this point.
Smith was a key cog of the Sacksonville defense and it’s good to see that his impact on the football field is still recognized four years after he decided he no longer wanted to play.