The Jacksonville Jaguars upgraded their wide receiver corps when they signed Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in free agency. While their addition will benefit Trevor Lawrence, it’s also hurt Laviska Shenault Jr., who has tumbled down the depth chart because of it. This is why Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report thinks that Jacksonville should release him.
Wharton recently drew up a list of players that should be cut before the start of the 2022 NFL season and he included Shenault. Wharton argues that the wide receiver is one of several players “buried under the shiny toys” and goes on to say that his production hasn’t been proportional to his talent. He believes that pulling the plug on him might be in everyone’s best interest.
"Despite catching 121 passes for 1,219 yards in five scores in his first two seasons, Shenault appears to be the fourth or fifth option in the Jaguars offense. He’s not considered a special teams ace, so his roster spot is in danger. But in the right situation, he could be more valuable. His powerful 6’1, 227-pound frame, and gifts while carrying the ball simply have not been featured in Jacksonville. This release would benefit both parties."
One clear sign that the Jaguars didn’t envision Shenault having a featured role in 2022 was the Kirk and Jones singing. They already tried to move on Viska earlier this year when they placed him on the trade block. However, they ended up keeping him.
The Jaguars can’t give up on Laviska Shenault yet
Shenault is coming off a down year, one in which he averaged less than 10 yards per reception and didn’t reach the end zone once. The fact that he couldn’t capitalize on DJ Chark Jr.’s absence last year and become one of the Jaguars’ top targets is telling but it’s by no means a reason to give up on him. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to just release him when you take into account that he still has two years left in his rookie deal.
Most players underperformed under Urban Meyer, so it’s not hard to believe Shenault could thrive under more favorable circumstances. Unfortunately, he’s had limited opportunities to make an impression due to the arrival of Kirk and Jones. Shenault is currently behind both of them and Marvin Jones Jr. on the depth chart, so his production will take a hit in 2022 if he remains in Jacksonville.
As Wharton suggested, Shenault could benefit from a fresh start. He could join a team where he could compete for a starting job. However, he’s a valuable depth piece for the Jags and he won’t likely be released or traded unless they think Jeff Cotton Jr. or Tim Jones can replace his production.
The downside of adding Jones and Kirk in the offseason is that Shenault will no longer have a featured role on the Jaguars’ offense. However, expect them to keep him at least for one more year around unless they receive a trade offer that is too good to pass up.