General manager Trent Baalke has done a solid job of fortifying the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster over the last two years. However, it doesn’t look like it was enough in the eyes of Robert Zeglinski of For The Win to give him a high spot in his latest power ranking.
Zeglinski recently ranked all 32 NFL general managers and Baalke finished last. Zeglinski argues that Baalke deserves blame for Trevor Lawrence’s underwhelming rookie seasons and adds that he isn’t particularly impressed with his 2021 free-agent class.
"Where do you uneven begin with Baalke? Is it having a role in hiring the overwhelmed, entirely out of his wits Urban Meyer to steward the rookie season of one of the best quarterback prospects in recent memory? What about guaranteeing almost $200 million to an uninspiring, middling free agent class out of desperation? Mind you; this was all in one year! Jacksonville might have an upgrade at head coach, but there’s still no competent captain at the very head of the ship."
Baalke joined the Jaguars as their vice president of players personnel in 2020. He was later promoted to interim general manager when Dave Caldwell got the boot. After a search for a long-term replacement, Baalke got ended up getting the job full-time and has overseen the Jaguars’ last two drafts. Before joining Jacksonville’s front office, he was the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2016.
During his tenure as the Jaguars’ general manager, Baalke has signed key contributors such as wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., cornerback Shaquill Griffin, and defensive end Arden Key. On the other hand, he’s known as someone who is difficult to work with around the league and his reputation might have turned off potential candidates during the team’s search for a head coach earlier this year.
Jaguars GM Trent Baalke deserves the benefit of the doubt
There’s no doubt that Baalke’s tenure in San Francisco finished on a sour note. Although he drafted players such as Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick early on, his hits were far and few between towards the end. Similarly, Baalke isn’t free of blame when it comes to the Urban Meyer debacle. Meyer was responsible for a good chunk of the mistakes that made the Jaguars go 3-14 last year but Baalke wasn’t just an observer.
Having said that, Baalke has replenished a roster that was in dire need of talent. Most of the players he signed last year went on to play key roles for Jacksonville last year. Similarly, his 2021 draft class has plenty of potential, even if you take Trevor Lawrence out of the equation.
You can rightfully argue that Baalke overspent in free agency but most of the players he signed are poised to have feature roles. Moreover, he’s shown that he isn’t afraid to pay players, unlikely Caldwell, who seemed more interested in stockpiling draft picks.
The bottom line is that Baalke isn’t close to being a top 10 general manager but he isn’t the worst either. He’s certainly made his fair share of mistakes but he’s got the Jaguars trending in the right direction. Ultimately, the Jaguars must show progress in the upcoming season and if they don’t, you can place Baalke in the cellar of a power ranking. For the time being, he’s done just enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt.