The Jacksonville Jaguars have had to make some tough decisions this offseason as they have started the rebuilding process, but perhaps the toughest decision is moving on without linebacker Daryl Smith.
Smith, who is a free agent, is unlikely to be offered a contract by the Jaguars and will likely be in a different uniform next season. Smith missed almost the entire 2012 season with a groin injury, but has probably been the most consistent defensive player the Jaguars have had over the last 10 years.
A second-round pick by the Jaguars in the 2004 NFL Draft, Smith had very quietly become one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in the league. He recorded tackles in bunches for the Jagaurs as a solid run defender and also possessed the skills to drop into coverage. The Jaguars defense struggled in his absence throughout the 2012 season.
Surprisingly, Smith’s name has not emerged in connection with any teams so far this offseason. He is capable of immediately stepping in and being an effective starter for a playoff contender running a 4-3 defense.
At 31-years-old, Smith’s age was probably the biggest factor in their decision to not bring him back. The Jaguars have parted ways with several other veterans this offseason including Rashean Mathis, Dawan Landry and Greg Jones as part of their effort to get younger all over their roster.
The Jaguars have already signed linebacker Geno Hayes this offseason and he we likely be the early frontrunner to replace Smith, but linebacker is a position that they could also address at some point in the draft.