1. Dawuane Smoot, edge rusher
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot, like Tre Herndon, has been a mainstay of the defense for a while. A third-round pick in the 2017 draft, Smoot is the lone member of the celebrated Sacksonville defense that remains on the roster.
Smoot was mostly part of the team's defensive line rotation early in his career but has seen his role increase in recent years. When the Jags traded Calais Cambell and Yannick Ngakoue in 2020, it was Smoot who stepped up. He led the team in sacks that year with 5.5 and got a two-year deal worth $10 million in 2021 as a reward for his contributions.
The former Illinois Fighting Illini picked up where he left off in 2021, registering 6.0 sacks. The 2022 season was much of the same until he tore his Achilles in Week 16. Still, he logged a respectable 5.0 sacks. He then spent the offseason in rehab and signed a one-year deal to return in 2023.
Unfortunately, Smoot hasn't had as much of an impact as he's had in previous years. He has had a quiet 2023 campaign, recording one sack, 10 total tackles, and three quarterback hits. He's set to become a free agent in March, and the Jaguars need to decide if they'll bring him back or make upgrades to their pass rush rotation.
Maybe Smoot could return on another one-year deal but the Jaguars could also look for a potential upgrade in free agency or the draft. It could ultimately come down to how much better Smoot will be with enough time to recover from the Achilles injury, but the team's brass will have options to bolster their pass rush if they decide to move on.