3 former Jaguars players we’re glad are gone, 2 we wish stayed

Here's how some of the team's recent free agent moves have panned out.

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

It's been an odd couple years for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It looked like 2022 was the start of something special, as Trevor Lawrence took the proverbial next step in his development under first year coach Doug Pederson. After winning the AFC South and pulling off one of the best comebacks in postseason history in the Wild Card game, their season ended with a 27-20 loss to the Chiefs in the Divisional round.

Heading into 2023, it looked like the Jags were the team to beat in the division, as well as a threat to the Chiefs' current reign on the conference.

Instead, they missed the playoffs entirely, regressed in a lot of areas, and ended the season with questions about Pederson's future in Jacksonville. It's a testament to how volatile title contention windows in the NFL really can be, and so much of the core from 2022 has already moved on to other teams. These are the three guys that we weren't sorry to see leave, and two that we wish were still around.

3 former Jaguars players we’re glad are gone

1. Jawaan Taylor

Taylor was a staple in Jacksonville over the first four years of his career, starting all 83 of the games he appeared in and never missing more than one game a season. Then, after the 2023 offseason, he signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the Chiefs, with $60 million of that guaranteed.

In his first season with Kansas City, Taylor committed 20 penalties and the worst statistical season of his career, at least by Pro Football Focus' grading system. (Although he did win a Super Bowl, so it wasn't like his season was a total bust.) And while it's not like Cam Robinson is leagues better, the Jaguars probably aren't missing Taylor too much right now.

2. Rayshawn Jenkins

Jenkins' career in Jacksonville was pretty up and down. After signing a four-year, $35 million contract with the team before the 2021 season, Jenkins went on to start 48 games for the Jaguars, and outside of a productive 2022 season (116 tackles, three interceptions and three forced fumbles) wasn't much of an impact player.

In March, he was released for cap space reasons, and although he's already found a home with the Seahawks, the Jaguars moved to upgrade at that position with the signing of former Packers' safety Darnell Savage.

3. Chris Manhertz

Maybe "glad they're gone" is a bit strong for Manhertz, who was mainly just a blocking tight end during his two-year tenure in Jacksonville. But the Jags are set at tight end with Evan Engram and Luke Ferrell, so it's hard to be bent out of shape about Manhertz's departure.

And, if anything, the Jaguars need more pass-catching options for Lawrence, so the decision to move on makes a ton of sense.

2 Jaguars players we wish stayed

Calvin Ridley

After putting up one of the best seasons of his very-good career, losing Ridley was a tough blow for a team that already is a bit short on offensive talent.

It certainly doesn't help that he's headed to an AFC South rival, either. He ended last season as the 47th best WR in the NFL according to PFF (out of 128), and now the Jags will have to see him lined up with DeAndre Hopkins twice a year. $90 million is a ton of money, but considering the Jaguars' next-best receiver had almost 300 fewer receiving yards than Ridley, they're going to have to be creative on how to avoid taking yet another step back on offense.

2. Darious Williams

From a coverage standpoint, 2023 was the best season of Williams' career: he set career-high marks in PBUs (15), interceptions (4), and passer rating against. He also had the 2nd-best "ball hawk rate" in the league last year, according to NFL's Next Gen Stats.

He's 31, so maybe the thinking is that some of those stats are going to decline pretty soon, but the Jaguars lost an elite coverage cornerback and don't seem to have a replacement of his caliber on the roster. Maybe Antonio Johnson?