Jacksonville Jaguars new general manager David Caldwell has done the rounds in the media lately, something quite different than his predecessor, and recently went on Sports Final Radio with Dan Hicken and Jeff Prosser on 1010XL. Below is the transcribed interview, you can click here to listen to the full audio.
I have paraphrased the questions.
Will you be talking with free agents over the next few days?
Yeah, we'll talk. We'll put our feelers out and we'll get our own phone calls, there'll be agents calling us to gauge our interest to kind of set the market, which we have to be a little bit cognizant about. Like I've said before we're not going to be too overly aggressive, but we'll search for opportunity. We talked the other day about how every year after this first week of free agency they come out with the "big winners and losers" of free agency, more often than not the big winners in free agency are the big losers during the season, so it's just based off past history.
There is a big difference in not making a big splash and not doing anything right?
We're looking for good solid players that fit our age bracket that can provide not only some leadership capabilities but some depth for our guys if we draft some young guys and have to play young guys early on, that these guys are going to be the bridge and help us get to the next level.
What are some of the things you took from working in Atlanta?
I think two things; One is being prepared and ready for any situation or scenario. I know in Atlanta we did some bold things. The second is just to have patience and don't overreact to a situation of a roster deficiency and try to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Is it different now being a GM or closer to what you did in the past?
Normally I would be on my way to work stopping at a Dunkin' Donuts getting coffee right now, and now I'm doing a radio show with you guys. My sleep patterns have changed quite a bit.
Give us a little insight into the Julio Jones trade
We had a very good franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan, our young quarterback. We had a good receiver in Roddy White and we were really looking for a compliment to him or someone to come in after Roddy is on the tail end of his career in two to three years and take over that number one role. Where our team was at the time, I think we were number one in draft retention, so we had about 27 of our 30 players we drafted on our roster and we just felt like a lot of those picks we were trading we were going to have to draft them to cut them or cut some players on our roster that we liked. It was just a point where we were at with our team. Also, which we'll do here, we'll start scouting not only this year's draft but future drafts. So we kind of looked at the receiver class and some of the other value positions we'd be drafting in the first round last year, whether it be offensive tackle, defensive end and felt like if we were picking in that 20 to 32 range, that it wasn't that big of a gamble to give up that future one for a dynamic player like Julio.
How does this year's quarterback class stack up based on your experience?
Well I think it's a matter of finding them and I also think it's matter of the situation some of the players come into. San Francisco was a very established team, same with Seattle, in that San Francisco was picking in the early first round for a few years and Seattle was in the third year of their turn around, so they had two good drafts, and same with San Francisco they had some good drafts, and neither of those teams supplemented very much through free agency, either. Then when they got to a point and time when Seattle was 7-9, 7-9 they made a move and drafted a quarterback in the third round and all the sudden they take off. So, that was kind of a three year process for them and San Francisco's process has been going on for 6, 7, 8 years in terms of building that team and then ultimately finding a quarterback after 6-7 years of drafting relatively high.
How many quarterbacks do you think will go in the first round this year?
This is the interesting thing about this year. There's probably a handful of teams who need quarterbacks, most years there are many, but most team's quarterback situations this year are solidified right now so there's about four or five teams that need them. Of those four or five teams that need them, I'd say that two or three teams really need them desperately. So I wouldn't be surprised if you see maybe one go early and then maybe one go mid-later first round.
Would you fall in the desperately category or are you talking about other teams?
[Caldwell laughs], I was talking about the other teams.
Is this a good draft to begin building a young team with?
I think it is. I think you're lacking the marquee top four to five players where everybody is kind of coveting, but there's going to be a very good player for us to draft there at two, but I think you're going to find a similar type of player from pick five to pick 45, so that bodes well for us at 33. Throughout the draft, I was just telling Terry McDonough and Andy Dengler that every time I put a player in I say "Alright, I like this guy. I can see us drafting this guy in the second or third round" so we feel good about what we have there in terms of some of our need positions.
About the tradability of the 33rd overall pick
I believe that will be a very valuable pick for us and like at pick number two there will be a very good player for us to draft, so we're going to have to weigh our options in terms of possibly getting a difference maker or possibly trading back and getting two or three value picks. Don't forget about our fourth and sixth pick, we have the number one pick in the fourth round so teams will have all night after the third round. I actually feel like we're fortunate getting the first pick in two, four, and six versus one, three, five, and seven.
Is there an implication in saying the guys are bunched together from 5 to 45 that there is a group of 3 to 4 players you are planning to take a No. 2?
I wouldn't say three or four. A lot of it depends too on there's so much time where some of these players other teams might start to say hey wow, this guy is pretty good and those teams picking 26, 27, 28, 29 all the sudden start taking them, but I would say those 3-4 players is probably more in the lines of 10-12 that I feel like one of these guys is going to be here at 33, if not multiple ones. (Note: Jeff was asking about No. 2 overall, Caldwell answered it like he meant 2nd round)
What should fans expect this year?
I believe they're going to see a new energy on the field. You guys who come through the building will see a new energy in the building and just to know that we have a plan in place that may not happen overnight, but we hope for the best and we get a couple breaks during the season and we just continue to get better with some young talent and guys who are hungry and passionate about football, and you never know what can happen. You are right, we were a 2-14 team last year and we want to build upon that and obviously get better. There's about 4-5 plays in every game that decides a game in the NFL, so if we get a couple of those games were those 4-5 games go in our direction then you never know how the season may unfold.
Did you have a bet or anything when the first Tebow question would come up today?
I'll be honest with you, since my opening press conference that question has only come up once. So, I wouldn't assume it would come up today.
That was the intent right (nixing Tebow early)?
The biggest thing is, there was so much positive energy with hiring Gus Bradley, who's a first time head coach and my first time as a general manager, Shad Khan who's a tremendous owner in Jacksonville and Mark Lamping our new president with a lot of the new changes we're making here, our theme is fresh start here. And to have a fresh start but still have some of the same recurring themes and didn't want that to detract from what we're trying to do here and detract from the overall theme of this team which is to get better every day.
You have to make some tough decisions, like letting Rashean Mathis go
Correct, there are some tough ones coming up (i.e. Landry, Ross) and Rashean was very difficult decision. He, like many of our players that we have tough decisions on have been cornerstones of this franchise and have been such an integral part of not only this franchise but also this community, which I can appreciate from my time in Indianapolis to my time in Atlanta watching them play on the field. Obviously these decisions are tough, but we have to make the best decisions for the Jaguars and they're not flippant decisions, they're not decisions because we're just getting here and want to bring our own guys in, but decisions we felt were in the best interest of moving this franchise forward.
Is the door shut on some of your free agents like Daryl Smith or Derek Cox, or is it figuring out the price tag?
With Daryl and Derek the door is not shut with any of those guys, it is a little bit of the market and I'm sure those guys want to test the market to see where they're going to fall and obviously we want to see where the market is and make sure that it's the best move for the Jaguars at this point and time too. We have not shut the door on any of those guys.