An interesting hypothetical trade proposal between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets sparked a Twitter debate this weekend.
During a mailbag post, ESPN's Jets reporter Rich Cimini called Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler "a name to watch" for a potential pass rusher trade. Cimini noted that backup quarterback and fellow former first-round pick, Teddy Bridgewater, could make sense as compensation if starting quarterback Blake Bortles suffers an injury during training camp or the preseason.
SB Nation's Big Cat Country took Cimini's answer one step further by asking its audience if it would approve of a trade of Fowler to the Jets for Bridgewater.
The proposal got us thinking: "Is that a deal that Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell would consider?"
On the surface, it doesn't seem likely that Caldwell would entertain such an offer, as his trades are typically set up with fail-safe perimeters. He often makes player-involved deals that will create minimal damage if the asset acquired goes awry.
While trading Fowler for future considerations may make sense, dealing him for a player with an injury history does not. The Jaguars declined to pick up Fowler's fifth-year contract option in May and he will be a free agent next offseason.
Caldwell has made a habit out of dealing players for future draft compensation prior to their departures in free agency, prolonging the value of the original assets with long-term opportunities. The general manager hasn't completed a player-for-player trade since joining the organization in 2013.
Caldwell has been involved in 10 player trades since taking on the position of Jaguars general manager. To understand his thought process when it comes to potential future deals, it's important to study his trade history. While the sample size isn't large, the proof of Caldwell's ability to protect himself (and the Jaguars) in most - if not all - deals is evident.
Trade #1: The Jaguars trade defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith to the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional draft pick (2013).
The Logic of the Deal: Caldwell's first player trade was about as unceremonious as it gets. However, the deal offered an early glimpse of the young general manager's desire to turn unused assets into potential treasure. Smith was originally going to be among the team's final cuts in 2013 but Caldwell was somehow able to negotiate a throwaway trade with the Seahawks at the last minute.
The Jaguars sent Smith to Seattle for a conditional pick. While the compensation never materialized, Caldwell was still able to provide a potential outlet for a disposed asset. Smith was cut by the Seahawks after spending less than a month in Seattle. He would eventually return for a second stint with the Seahawks but the deal with the Jaguars was voided upon his initial release.
Trade #2: The Jaguars trade offensive tackle Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2014 fourth-round pick (cornerback Aaron Colvin) and a 2014 fifth-round pick (defensive end Chris Smith) (2013).
The Logic of the Deal: Caldwell displayed his focus on the future with the Monroe deal in 2013. The former first-round pick was in the middle of his contract year in Jacksonville when Caldwell went shopping for a trade. The Ravens, who were playoff contenders at the time, wanted to add some bulk to their offensive line.
The two sides worked out a deal so that the Jaguars could acquire future compensation for a player who was unlikely to re-sign with them during the following offseason. After playing four games in Jacksonville that season, Monroe was traded to Baltimore for two Day 3 picks.
Monroe ended up signing a long-term deal with the Ravens but only played for two more years. The Jaguars used the picks from the trade to select Colvin and Smith. Colvin was among the best nickel corners in the league during his four-year tenure with the Jaguars and Smith provided a rotational pass rushing presence while with the franchise.
Colvin left for a lucrative deal in Houston this offseason but was a major asset during Jaguars' playoff run last season. Colvin produced his first interception during the team's 10-3 wild-card round win over the Buffalo Bills.
Trade #3: The Jaguars trade quarterback Blaine Gabbert to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2014 sixth-round pick (center Luke Bowanko) (2014).
The Logic of the Deal: Gabbert will go down as one of the worst draft blunders in Jaguars history. Luckily for Caldwell, he wasn't the guy who pulled the trigger on that one. However, he surprisingly was able to turn lemons into lemonade with a trade.
The deal may be one of Caldwell's most impressive trades, as he was able to move a quarterback with little-to-no juice behind his name for a sixth-round pick. The Jaguars used the pick to select Bowanko, who was the team's starting center in 2015. While injuries derailed his tenure in Jacksonville, Bowanko provided something for nothing essentially. Gabbert wasn't long for Jacksonville and Bowanko at least provided depth in return for a lackluster asset.
Trade #4: The Jaguars trade kicker Josh Scobee to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2016 sixth-round pick (quarterback Brandon Allen) (2015).
The Logic of the Deal: The Jaguars liked what they saw from young kicker Jason Myers during the 2015 offseason. Myers' offseason performance enabled Caldwell to shop Scobee, who was coming off a pair of underwhelming seasons in a Jaguars uniform. Jacksonville was able to acquire a sixth-round pick for the aging kicker and made the deal.
Scobee lasted just four games in Pittsburgh before being released. He then retired this past offseason after a failed stint with the New Orleans Saints in 2016. The Jaguars were still compensated for the trade, using the sixth-round pick on Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen.
Serving as the third-string quarterback during the 2016 season, Allen was on the active roster for the entire year. The Jaguars' new regime then cut him following last year's preseason. Allen currently holds the clipboard for the Los Angeles Rams behind Jared Goff and Sean Mannion.
Trade #5: The Jaguars acquire offensive tackle Branden Albert in a trade with the Miami Dolphins for a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick (2017).
The Logic of the Deal: This trade was a mess. The compensation for the deal never truly saw the light of day, as Albert retired during the early days of training camp. Albert eventually came out of retirement and was released by the Jaguars, voiding the conditional nature of the pick sent to Miami in return for the offensive lineman. Albert reportedly needed to appear in three games in order for the Dolphins to receive a seventh-round pick from the Jaguars.
It turns out that the Jaguars didn't really need Albert, as then-second-round pick Cam Robinson provided a solid turn as the team's starting left tackle during his rookie season. Jacksonville used the "Albert pick" to select Mississippi State punter Logan Cooke, who is running unopposed at the position this offseason.
Looking back at all 10 Jaguars player trades of the Dave Caldwell era
Trade #6: The Jaguars trade tight end Julius Thomas to the Dolphins for a 2017 seventh-round pick (fullback Marquez Williams) (2017).
The Logic of the Deal: The Jaguars saved tons of cap space by trading Thomas to Miami for the NFL equivalent of a bag of jelly beans. The Thomas deal was a cost-cutting move after he proved to be a poor investment for Jacksonville. Thomas signed a massive contract with the Jaguars in 2015 and rewarded the squad with two underwhelming seasons.
Thomas didn't fare any better in Miami, producing 41 catches for 388 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The Dolphins' offense wasn't able to take a much-needed step forward with Thomas in the mix and he was cut earlier this offseason.
The Jaguars received a seventh-round pick for Thomas and used it on Williams. While he seemed poised for a stint on the practice squad, Williams suffered an injury prior to final cuts and was placed on injured reserve. The Jaguars were eventually forced to waive Williams off the injury list when he was fully recovered. Williams signed with the Cleveland Browns prior to their final game of last season. He played in the final game, as the Browns became just the second NFL team to go 0-16 in a season.
Trade #7: The Jaguars trade defensive end Chris Smith to the Cincinnati Bengals for a 2018 conditional seventh-round pick (linebacker Leon Jacobs) (2017).
The Logic of the Deal: Caldwell has done a solid job of prolonging the return on his previous trades. Last year's Smith deal essentially extended the value of the 2013 Monroe trade, as Smith was acquired from one of the picks used in the swap with Baltimore. Smith was used as a rotational pass rusher during his three years in Jacksonville but he was never able to establish a clear role on defense.
Caldwell found a fail-safe deal for Smith, sending him to Cincinnati for a conditional seventh-round pick. The terms of the conditional pick were that Smith had to be on the active 46-man roster for eight games during last season. Smith appeared in a career-high 16 games for the Bengals last year.
While the Jaguars were compensated this offseason for Smith's move to the Bengals, Cincinnati no longer had the veteran on the roster at the time of the NFL Draft. Smith left Cincinnati for Cleveland during free agency in March. The Jaguars used the Bengals' seventh-round pick to select Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs, who is competing for Jacksonville's starting SAM spot this offseason.
Meanwhile, Monroe has been out of the league since 2015.
Trade #8: The Jaguars trade offensive lineman Luke Bowanko to the Ravens for a 2019 seventh-round pick (2017).
The Logic of the Deal: What's more impressive than trading Gabbert for a sixth-round pick in 2015? Well, Caldwell has been able to top that deal by prolonging its value. As previously mentioned, the Jaguars used the 2015 sixth-round pick from the Gabbert trade to select Bowanko. After the lineman served as the team's starting center as a rookie, his career went off course due to a rash of injuries. Despite his versatility, Bowanko failed to earn regular playing time during his final two years in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars were on the verge of cutting Bowanko following last year's preseason but instead found a willing trade partner in Baltimore. Jacksonville received a 2019 seventh-round pick for Bowanko, who wasn't making the team during the final year of his rookie contract. Bowanko, like Smith, turned into a one-year rental for the Ravens, as he left them for the New England Patriots during this year's free agency period. While Bowanko has moved on from Baltimore, the Jaguars are still set to receive draft compensation for next offseason.
Trade #9: The Jaguars acquire defensive tackle Marcell Dareus in a trade with the Buffalo Bills for a 2018 conditional sixth-round pick (turns into a fifth-round selection, guard Wyatt Teller) (2017).
The Logic of the Deal: The Jaguars were in the middle of a playoff push with a clear deficiency on their otherwise special defense: stopping the run with consistency. Dareus was acquired prior to the trade deadline and immediately filled the hole in the Jaguars' defensive front. The Jaguars risked very little by making this move, offering a conditional Day 3 pick to the Bills when Jacksonville already had an extra seventh-round pick from the aforementioned Smith trade with the Bengals.
While the conditional sixth-round pick turned into a fifth-round selection, the Jaguars were able to beat the Bills in the wild-card round of the playoffs with the help of Dareus, who was arguably the team's third-best defensive lineman during the postseason. It's hard to know for sure, but we would assume the Bills would have probably preferred a playoff win over a fifth-round pick.
Trade #10: The Jaguars acquire quarterback Cody Kessler in a trade with the Cleveland Browns for a 2019 conditional seventh-round pick (2018).
The Logic of the Deal: In order for the Browns to receive a 2019 seventh-round pick from the Jaguars, Kessler needs to not only make the Jacksonville roster but also serve as Bortles' main backup (read: be on the active 46-man roster) for at least six games.
The deal essentially gives the Jaguars about six months to evaluate a third-year quarterback on a third-round pick salary. Kessler is cheap and a fit for the Jaguars' offense. If the backup quarterback falters during training camp and/or the preseason, the Jaguars can null-and-void the compensation by simply releasing him. There is no risk to this deal.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.