INDIANAPOLIS -- New Jaguars general manager David Caldwell has repeatedly spoken well of the roster he inherited even though it collectively managed a 2-14 record in 2012.
But the man who hired him, Shad Khan, has spoken of expectations or a view of the team that were delusional under the previous regime.
As Caldwell spoke at the NFL scouting combine today, I was curious whether he could square that seeming contradiction for me.
“I think the delusional part came with the amount of money that they spent in free agency last year and thinking they were one or two pieces away,” Caldwell said. “And then to come right back and manage only a 2-14 season.
“So for us, there is a good core of players here that we feel good about. We have our work cut out for us, and we’re going to have a very young team coming into this season. It’s going to be built through the draft and through college free agents.”
That spending Caldwell referred to was headlined by receiver Laurent Robinson, whose $6.3 million cap figure this year is the fourth-highest on the team, and also included a deal that has ineffective cornerback Aaron Ross scheduled to count $4.083 million.
Cap room is not an issue, so money will not dictate any cuts.
“There are no changes coming that will be financial,” Caldwell said. “The changes that will be coming will be based on performance.”
Robinson signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal with $13.8 million guaranteed. It was a monster contract for a guy who played for three teams in his first five years and had only one big season.
Then he got sidetracked by multiple concussions, playing in only seven games and catching just 24 passes. An NFL Network report on Feb. 1 said Robinson was still dealing with lingering effects of the hits to the head.
Apparently he's made great progress.
“My understanding is he’s been cleared to participate, so he’s full-go right now,” Caldwell said. “It’s something we’re going to monitor very closely with all of our players.”
For a team in need at a lot of spots, if Robinson is healthy, the Jaguars might actually be pretty good at receiver with Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, who both emerged late last season, and Robinson.
“That’s a good trio of receivers right there, and they all bring a unique skill set for us, which will make it difficult for defenses,” Caldwell said.