Austen Lane takes friendly jab at ex Jacksonville Jaguars DE Arden Key
Defensive end Arden Key has developed into a fine player after underperforming early in his career. He signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason and went on to become an important part of their pass rush rotation. Although the Jags would've wished to keep him, he got a better offer from the Tennessee Titans, so he made a business decision and crossed enemy lines.
During his introductory press conference with the Tennessee Titans, Key said that he felt disrespected by the proposal the Jaguars made him to remain in Duval, especially after building up the culture and bringing lots of energy. While it's true that he played an important role on defense, he might have overestimated his impact in 2022.
Key appeared in 45 percent of the Jaguars' defensive snaps last season. He suited up for all 17 games and logged 4.5 sacks, 27 total tackles and five tackles for a loss. Those are solid numbers for a role player but they're not the kind that warrants a top-market contract. There's a real possibility that general manager Trent Baalke lowballed him but Key is making it sound as if he had a bigger than he actually had for the Jags in 2022.
Not long after his comments, Jaguars fans took to social media to poke fun at Key for the embellished version of his stint in Jacksonville, "In 1922, Arden Key changed the city of Cowford when he convinced 100 percent of the population to change the city's name", RoboJaguar posted.
"Mr. Key named the city "Jacksonville" in honor of his close friend Mr. Jaxon de Ville, a French businessman", Mr. RoboJaguar added. Local hero and former Jaguars defensive end Austin Lane also got into the fun, noting that Key had played a huge role in the recording of "Significant Other", arguably Limp Bizkit's most significative pieces of work and one of the most influential albums of the late 1900s.
Arden Key might have overestimated his role with the Jacksonville Jaguars
Make no mistake. Arden Key did become a leader for the Jacksonville Jaguars but he's making it sound as if he were the second coming of J.J. Watt. Sure, his flexibility to line up at different spots across the line of scrimmage and play different positions helped Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell to deploy him in different ways and find favorable matchups for his teammates.
However, he isn't a Pro Bowl-caliber player at this stage of his NFL career. And that's perfectly fine. Not every player can land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Clubs need players that can take on reserve roles or be part of a rotation and Key fits the bill
Moreover, Key deserves credit for working on his craft over the last two years. Having said that, the Jaguars knew they couldn't give him a top-market contract, so they let him walk and join someone he did. Both parties acted in their best interest and they should be fine without each other.
Working in Key's favor is that he'll have a chance to show his former team, "I told you so", twice a year. Conversely, the Jags can show him why they thought he was expendable. This should in turn spice things up next time Jacksonville play the Titans.