With just 52 days until kickoff, let’s talk about the Jacksonville Jaguars’ all-time leading tackler until late last year and the best No. 52 to wear the teal and black — Daryl Smith!
“One of Dave Caldwell’s biggest mistakes.”
Smith was drafted in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft and it was known to everyone who even casually tuned in to watch that Smith was going to be very, very good. In his rookie season, he started just 13 games but still finished with 78 tackles, two sacks, one interception, and one fumble recovery.
Over his nine-year career, he racked up 12 interceptions, 71 passes defended, eight forced fumbles, 21.5 sacks, and was the all-time leader in tackles until late last season when that distinction went to Paul Posluszny.
And then he got hurt, missing 14 games in 2012. Up to that point he’d only missed four games due to injury.
Dave Caldwell was hired as the new general manager and he let Smith walk, thinking he had lost a step.
Smith hadn’t lost a step. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens and went on to have a career year with the defending Super Bowl champions. Then the next year he forced a career-high five fumbles. He played in every game in the last four years and would’ve been an incredible asset with a young, rebuilding defense.
Instead, it was one of Caldwell’s biggest mistakes.
I get that Smith was coming off a major injury, but how do you start your rebuild by allowing one of your best defenders to walk away? Yes, there were concerns about his longevity, but it still didn’t make much sense at the time.