The Jaguars were counting on Telvin Smith to help anchor their defense in 2019. Instead, the linebacker will be taking the season off.
Rumors connecting Telvin Smith wanting a trade out of Jacksonville this offseason have proven to be unfounded. That doesn’t mean Smith is going to help the Jaguars in 2019. The talented linebacker insists he will sit out the entire season in an effort to tend to personal issues.
The 28-year-old player took to his personal Instagram account to break the news of his decision to the masses. He made it clear to fans that he wants to play his entire career in Jacksonville, but expressed a desire to give time back to himself, his family and his health. Smith gave no more specific reason on why he’s taking a year off in the prime of his football career.
It’s unclear if the Jaguars were given advanced notice that their starting weak side linebacker was even contemplating this kind of unconventional decision. It’s safe to assume they didn’t have an inkling before April’s draft. Jacksonville spent their first round selection on Josh Allen to strengthen their pass rush, but they didn’t add any additional depth to the linebacker position.
Now the Jaguars front office will be forced to scramble in an effort to replace the 100 solo tackles Smith provided the defense in 2018. There clearly aren’t a lot of options left on the free agent market. Jacksonville will certainly keep a close eye on players cut during training camp who might be capable of helping fill Smith’s void.
The more difficult challenge for the Jaguars front office will be deciding whether or not they can count on Smith into the future. 2019 was slated to be the third season in the middle of the five-year contract he signed back before the 2017 season began. It’s unclear exactly how Smith’s decision to sit out this season will change the team’s long-term thinking about his spot on the roster.
Of course, the bigger issue here is for Smith to take care of whatever personal issues he might have. It’s never easy for a professional football player to give up the sport he loves for a full season. Smith’s status as a player certainly takes a back seat to the health of his personal life.