Jaguars bolster pass rush, bring Dawuane Smoot back on 1-year deal

The Jacksonville Jaguars have checked off a box on their to-do list by signing defensive end Dawuane Smoot on a one-year deal.
Dawuane Smooth displays the cleats he will wear on Sunday, honoring the Better Dads Society.
Dawuane Smooth displays the cleats he will wear on Sunday, honoring the Better Dads Society. / Garry Smits/Florida Times-Union / USA

Defensive end Dawuane Smoot became a free agent earlier this year and it took a while but he and the Jacksonville Jaguars just got a deal done that ensures he returns for the 2023 season.

Early Friday, Smoot's agent, David Canter, announced that his client had re-signed with the Jags. Not long after, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that it was a one-year contract worth $6.5 million with $3.25 guaranteed. Now, Smoot returns for a seventh season in Jacksonville, having spent his whole career with the Jags after being drafted in 2017.

The former Illinois Fighting Illini didn't record a sack in any of his two first seasons but tallied 22.5 over the last four year. Although he didn't make any starts last year, he was an important piece of the team's pass rush rotation, playing 44 percent of the team's total snaps.

In spite of his production, Smoot and the Jaguars couldn't strike a deal, and the Achilles tear he suffered against the New York Jets late in the season might have been one of the hurdles preventing it (the other was maybe his total compensation). And they only make a deal happen after news surfaced that Smoot was scheduled to meet with the Baltimore Ravens next week. Maybe that was the wake-up call the Jaguars needed to ensure they didn't lose Smoot.

It's hard to tell how Smoot's recovery is going from an outside perspective but it's fair to say that Jacksonville wouldn't have inked him if they hadn't been comfortable with his progress. The team is set to report to training camp in the upcoming days and Smoot's health will most likely come up when head coach Doug Pederson or defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell meets with the local media. Here's the tweet of Cantor congratulating Smoot,

Signing Dawuane Smoot helps the Jaguars check off one box on their to-do list

Pass rush was arguably the team's biggest need after the draft. Having lost defensive end Arden Key to the Tennessee Titans in free agency, the Jags were expected to use an early draft pick on an edge rusher but waited until Round 4 to take Tyler Lacy and Louisville outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah one round later.

Even though there were several veteran pass rush options available (Frank Clark, Leonard Floyd, Yannick Ngakoue, Justin Houston), Doug Pederson said that the team wanted to see their in-house options before looking for outside help. Those options would have been third-year outside linebacker Jordan Smith, and 2020 first-round pick K'Lavon Chaisson, along with Lacy and Abdullah.

With Smoot in the fold, it's unlike that the Jaguars will pursue another veteran pass rusher. On the other hand, the coaching staff won't have to thrust their young players into action unless they're ready.

Smoot's return to the lineup is unkown but one thing is certain. By bringing back, the Jaguars took a step forward to bolster their pass rush in 2023.

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