Jacksonville Jaguars moved on from CJ Henderson at the right time

Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson (23).
Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson (23). / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions decided that they had seen enough of cornerback Jeff Okudah, the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, after three seasons, so they traded him to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round pick. Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars didn't need as much time to pull the plug on C.J. Henderson to figure he wasn't going to pan out and send him to the Carolina Panthers less than two years after making him the ninth overall pick in 2020.

Hindsight is 20/20 but the Jags got it right when they shipped Henderson, as he's failed to make an impact in Carolina. Although the former Florida Gator had his fair share of struggles as a rookie, he also showed promise. Nevertheless, he landed on the Injured Reserve after suffering a groin injury in Week 10.

Henderson then missed most of the team's 2021 offseason program after undergoing labrum surgery. Later that year, he was placed on the COVID-19 list and didn't attend the first eight practices in training camp. When he was available, he seemed to be uninterested, which prompted then head coach Urban Meyer to say he wasn't sure the young corner was going to be able to bounce back from what had been a rough offseason.

Even though Henderson was reportedly shopped before the start of the 2021 season, he went on to make two starts for the Jaguars that year. However, he was ultimately traded to Carolina in exchange for tight end Dan Arnold and a third-round selection after Jacskonville's loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.

The Jacksonville Jaguars moved on from CJ Henderson at the right time

You have probably heard of the sunk cost fallacy. You keep devoting resources (time/money) to a player to justify the heavy investment you made in him, even if the returns are minimal or non-existent. NFL clubs tend to do this often, especially with former first-round picks. Maybe if he gets the right coach or finally stays healthy, he can contribute.

Although waiting sometimes pays off, clubs hold on to players that they should let go more often than not. In Henderson's case, the Jaguars quickly moved on from him and got a third-round pick in return. Sure, they drafted the Florida native in Round 1 but the compensation they got from the Panthers was much better than the one the Lions received for Okudah.

The fact that the regimes that drafted Henderson and Okudah were no longer in place might have made it easier to part ways with them. If former general managers David Caldwell and Bob Quinn had been with the Jags and the Lions, respectively, when at the time of the trade, there's a strong chance Henderson and Okudah wouldn't have changed teams.

Having said that, pulling the plug can be tough. Players' readiness is always variable coming out of college and some need more time than others to find their footing in the pros. Similarly, overcoming the injury bug isn't always easy but there have been several players that manage to stay healthy for most of their careers after missing time early.

The bottom line is that keeping a player and expect him to break out can work at times but the Jaguars got it right when they traded Henderson. Maybe if the Lions hadn't waited so long to move on from Okudah, they could have also gotten a third-round pick instead of a fifth.

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