No. 2 Jaguars best FA signing of the Trent Baalke era: Dawuane Smoot, DL
Defensive end/outside linebacker Dawuane Smoot didn’t join the Jaguars in free agency. Rather, he was their third-round selection in the 2017 draft but he was set to hit the open market and the team’s brass chose to give him a two-year deal worth $14 million to remain in Jacksonville.
So far, the decision has paid off, as the former Illinois Fightin Illini has been the Jaguars’ best pass rusher over the last two years. In fact, he’s been one of their most consistent players, logging 22.5 sacks since 2019. And that’s the thing, Smoot is far from an All-Pro but he’s the kind of grinder that will outperform expectations.
Re-signing Smoot last year was an easy call because Jacksonville had an abundance of cap space but it might be a bit harder to bring him back in 2023. The Jaguars are currently in the red and will need to shred a few contracts and restructure others just to get under the cap. But even if the Jaguars free up space, Smoot isn’t their only player set to become a free agent.
Defensive end Arden Key and tight end Evan Engram are also slated to hit the open market, so Trent Baalke will need to decide who needs to be prioritized. Given the impact he’s had over the last two seasons, Smoot should be the choice but it’s uncertain if he and the team will be able to reach an agreement.