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Expect handcuffs for Gene Smith to finish the season

While the Eagles released defensive end Jason Babin, don't expect the Jaguars to be ones to go after the former Pro Bowler.

Dilip Vishwanat

Whether or not you think Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith deserves or gets another chance to right the ship in Jacksonville, it's clear that Shahid Khan will have a decision to make after the season. One that most expect, including many league executives, will result in the Jaguars looking for a new GM prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.

Even if Khan hasn't made that decision yet, it's very hard to imagine that he saw anything in the first 12 weeks that would convince him that a firing absolutely will not happen and that Smith's job is safe, regardless of the finish of the season.

With this post-season evaluation coming and the Jaguars already eliminated from the playoffs, what is the last thing that Khan will want to do? Give Smith the tools to make any major decisions that will impact the future of the franchise or, more importantly, make the rebuilding process that will likely be in the hands of a different GM any more difficult.

Would I sign Jason Babin, the recently released Eagles defensive end who is having a "disappointing" season with 5.5 sacks? Yes. No player on the Jaguars has more than two sacks and Babin is an elite pass rusher that would make an instant difference and could help for the future.

Maybe Gene Smith thinks so too, but that's a lot of money to put on a Smith decision. Especially when a new GM could come in two months and decide that the 32-year old Babin is not a player that makes sense for his rebuild.

With just five games to go before the end of the season and the evaluations that will follow shortly thereafter, the thing that makes the most sense for Khan is to keep the piggy bank well out of the reach of Smith. Tinker with the bottom of the roster all you want, but you're stuck with the starters on the field, Gene.

Update: Or not.