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Releasing John Henderson, The Right Move

The Jacksonville Jaguars effectively released two players today.  They will release veteran defensive tackle John Henderson and have rescinded the restricted free agent tender for Jaguars linebacker Clint Ingram.  This makes both Henderson and Ingram unrestricted free agents, free to sign with whomever they wish.

It was absolutely the correct move.

Some are going to question and wring their hands over the outright release of John Henderson, but there isn't much the Jaguars could do in that area. After drafting Cal's Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick, it sealed the fate for John Henderson.  You knew he would be traded at some point in the draft.  Then, when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith in the 3rd round, it was an over the top nail in the coffin of John Henderson as a Jacksonville Jaguar.

At that point, after selecting two defensive tackles in the first 3 rounds in the 2010 draft, coupled with the fact that Terrance Knight was selected in the 3rd round last season and became a full time starter, completely nullified any value John Henderson had.  Many expected you could nab a 4th or 5th round pick for the defensive tackle, who still has some game left in the tank, but not when teams now know you'll likely release him.

"We had a lot of calls last night that were positive in some respect because a few of the teams followed up this morning, but it was going to be dictated by what they did in the draft tonight. And the fact with a little deeper draft at the defensive tackle position, a few of those teams that had legitimate interest did draft a defensive tackle in the second round. So we will still call every team in the league tonight on any of our players, I wouldn’t say just John Henderson, because we’re trying to find out what other teams are thinking. Sometime they’re trying to move a player, sometimes you can do a player for pick or player for player. So we’ll keep all options open as it pertains to our roster." - Jaguars General Manager, Gene Smith after Day 2 of the NFL Draft

The Jacksonville Jaguars tried to trade John Henderson, but there were simply no takers.

I've had people ask me "Well, you couldn't even get a 7th round pick for him?"

No, they couldn't. If they could, they would have.  Fact of the matter is when a team knows you're going to move a player or release him, unless they're desperate they will just wait it out.

"Certainly we’ve had a lot of dialog the last couple days with teams. The way things fell in the draft because of the depth at defensive line, I don’t think some of the opportunities that were out there yesterday early were not there last night. So we’re certainly going to have conversations about the status of him and I will make a decision and we will move in a manner that can benefit him if in fact we go a different direction. Obviously we look at numbers at positions going into rookie mini‐camp and I feel very good where we’re at. There could be some players we make moves on over the next week to get the right numbers going into mini‐camp and I haven’t made those decisions yet, though." - Jaguars General Manager, Gene Smith after the conclusion of the NFL Draft.

Obviously they have made those decisions as of today, and it was the correct move.  The Jacksonville Jaguars now have 4 young players on their defensive tackle rotation.  They drafted 3 in the last two drafts and signed the often forgotten Attiyyah Ellison to a contract extension.  Ellison was picked up last season and was a star in training camp and the preseason. He served as a good rotational lineman in the Jaguars 3-4/4-3 defense last year.

The fact of the matter is; this team is in the process of rebuilding.  If we're going to be honest with ourselves, it's likely the Jacksonville Jaguars have a season much like last season; a possible shot at the playoffs.  Again however, this is going to be a very young football team who is going to go through growing pains, especially on defense.  John Henderson isn't going to change how this team performs next season.  He's still an adequate player who should find another team rather quickly.  Keeping him on the roster however, was virtually impossible.  You want to get your young players on the field and get them work, keeping Henderson would just slow that process.

John Henderson gave this team and it's fans a lot of work and performance during his tenure here. He will be missed by many, but fans have to realize all good things come to an end.  The days of John Henderson as a Jacksonville Jaguar had to end, and it ended today.

There is already a report of John Henderson visiting the Kansas City Chiefs, which makes a lot of sense. Henderson played defensive end in the Jaguars 3-4 looks last season and actually played pretty well. I can't imagine they are thinking about him playing the nose tackle position, as he's a bit too tall for the ideal size of that position.

Now, in honor of John Henderson... ask someone to slap you in the face today.  My wife was happy to oblige.