Where does Jaguars GM Trent Baalke stand entering the 2024 offseason?
Baalke has had a rocky reputation dating back to his days as the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, often clashing with head coach Jim Harbaugh. Ultimately, Baalke won the standoff but he didn't come out scathered. He was seen as difficult to work with across the league. That said, it was his failure to revamp the 49ers what got him fired in 2017, not his personality.
Still, it was a bit odd to see him get a job as a director of player personnel with the Jaguars in 2020. When Dave Caldwell was promoted later that year, he became the interim general manager and got the job full-time after an extended search. During his first year at the helm, the Jags drafted Travis Etienne, running back Travis Etienne, offensive lineman Walker Little, cornerback Tyson Campbell, safety Andre Cisco, and tight end Luke Farrell.
But despite acquiring a handful of potential building blocks, Baalke was still part of the team during the Urban Meyer debacle, so it was reasonable to think that the Jaguars needed a full rebuild if they wanted to turn things around. During the search for a new head coach to replace Meyer, Byron Leftwich made it clear he didn't want to work with Baalke and would instead bring Arizona Cardinals executive Adrian Wilson with him.
The team's refusal to dismiss Baalke ultimately led Byron Leftwich to withdraw his name from consideration for the opening, even though it was reported that his signing was imminent. Once Leftwich was out, the Jaguars gave the job to Doug Pederson, who was willing to work with Baalke.
The relationship worked, and the duo took the Jaguars to the playoffs and their first AFC South title since 2021. Together, they'll need to work on the issues that held the team back in 2023 if they don't want their sit to turn burning hot.