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What trading Calais Campbell means for the Jaguars moving forward

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The Jaguars lost a valuable locker room presence, and are in full rebuild mode on defense now.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

The Mayor of Sacksonville is no longer.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will trade defensive lineman Calais Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens for a fifth-round selection in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.

That much will be finalized when the new league year officially opens on March 18th at 4:00 p.m. (EST). Receiving compensation for the soon-to-be 34-year-old defensive lineman appears sound on the surface. One thing that’s been made clear through the trade, however, is the Jaguars are undergoing a rebuilding, or re-tooling at TIAA Bank Field.

After casting aside key pieces within their defense over the past few weeks, months, and years, the Jaguars have surrendered themselves to the age-old tradition of rebuilding with an insurgence of young talent. By trading Campbell, the Jaguars will gain $15M in salary cap space along with more draft selections, bringing their total to 11 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The change of the guard within the locker room has occurred in each of the team’s past three offseasons. In 2018, the Jaguars saw veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny retire, creating a void in leadership on the defense, which came to a head during the 2018 season itself. In 2019, the Jaguars released three veterans, safeties Barry Church, Tashuan Gipson, and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

Recently, the team has seen cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye (pending) leave the team via trade, and linebacker Telvin Smith ,mysteriously retired shortly before the 2019 season, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is no longer on the team after the Jaguars opted to not pick up his option for this upcoming season, and now Campbell.

In total, the Jaguars have only two remaining defensive starters from the team’s 2017 playoff run, which saw the team a few plays away from the Super Bowl. Only linebacker Myles Jack, defensive tackle Abry Jones, and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue remain, and there is brewing uncertainty regarding his status on the team as well.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/jax/2017.htm

Currently, the Jaguars have few true building blocks which have shown progress remaining on defense. Defensive ends Josh Allen and Ngakoue, safety Ronnie Harrison, Jack, and nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden are the only starters on defense which have solidified themselves for multiple years now on defense.

Losing valuable veteran leadership, the team will need multiple players to grow up sooner, rather than later, and an influx of talent may not be enough to put them over the edge in 2020, whether it be from the draft or free agency.

However, one thing that was made clear today with the Jaguars trading Campbell — the team will be spending on free agency next week, if it is to go on as scheduled. The Jaguars have an opportunity to patch holes on defense and with the cap space generated from jettisoning Campbell off the team.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Jaguars have an estimated $24,962,536 in cap space right now with several moves potentially still to come to create more. That will be more than enough to acquire young, talented defensive players which will then be supplemented through the draft come April.

The value for Campbell — a fifth round selection —, appears low, however.

The team is losing, not only an incredible person off the field, but a talented, and productive player on the field. While it does appear that Campbell is slowing down entering his age-34 season (6.5 sacks across four games out of 16), the veteran defensive end was still able to pressure the quarterback 46 times last season, according to Pro Football Focus, which ranked 10th among all EDGE players — replacing that production will not come easy.

The team is in a state of flux at the moment, unable to completely rebuild due to high-expectations cast by ownership, but needing to re-tool in order to better their efforts on the defensive side of the football. It will be an important offseason for the Jaguars, which will potentially make or break the team entirely.