When the Jaguars selected defensive end Dante Fowler with the third overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they assumed he would be a playmaking pass rusher with upside.
Unfortunately, the then-rookie tore his ACL during his first NFL practice and missed his initial professional season. For long-term insurance and depth purposes, the team selected fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Jaguars' 2018 unrestricted free agents
Ngakoue eventually surpassed Fowler in the lineup during the pair's first season on the field together. Fowler has since been in a rotational role for the Jaguars.
This past season, Fowler played the way the Jaguars envisioned when he was a draft prospect at the University of Florida. The third-year pass rusher produced 21 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles as a rotational end.
Entering his third playing season and the fourth year of his rookie contract, Fowler has shown enough promise that some have raised the question as to whether or not the Jaguars will pick up his fifth-year option.
The option would entitle Fowler to a significant pay increase. If he were to receive the option, the deal would add another lofty defensive line salary to the pile.
The Jaguars are already paying Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus premium amounts of cash. Ngakoue will also be eligible for a huge extension after this upcoming season.
With Fowler playing as well as he did this past year, the Jaguars are put in an interesting spot.
The team has invested a lot in Fowler, so potentially losing him a year early would be frustrating. To spend that much draft capital and development time with a player, only to possibly lose him for nothing, would be a poor return on investment.
However, the Jaguars have a lot to do on the offensive side of the ball and the cash that would be allocated to Fowler's option could come in handy in free agency next offseason.
The team also has to consider the salary cap weight of future extensions for Ngakoue, linebacker Myles Jack and superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who are all eligible to cash-in on new deals next offseason.
With all of that in mind, the Jaguars may be smart to trade Fowler this offseason. Receiving compensation for Fowler - if he is going to become a free agent anyway - would make sense for Jacksonville.
If he were to be traded before May, his new team would be able to pick up his option and receive a long-term return on Fowler's acquisition. That option would also give Fowler more value, as teams would not be trading for a one-year rental.
Perhaps, a third-round pick would make sense for the Jaguars. There are plenty of teams that need pass rushers, so a late-Day 2 pick would seem reasonable.
If Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell can find appropriate value - if he is interested in dealing Fowler - it would make sense to deal the rotational lineman.
One could argue that Fowler's importance to the here-and-now of the defensive rotation is vital. That's a valid argument. His importance and talent will make dealing him difficult.
Do you risk short-term success for long-term gain? It's a tough question to answer when you consider that the Jaguars went to the AFC Championship Game just a few weeks ago.
The Jaguars will need to answer that question this offseason.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.