In a rather shocking twist, Telvin Smith announced he will sit out the 2019 season. The Jaguars linebacker plans to step away from the game for the time being, he announced on Instagram (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, on Twitter).
After the draft, GM Dave Caldwell did not commit to Smith’s place on the ’19 Jags. Smith had not reported to Jaguars voluntary workouts this offseason. But the five-year veteran said recently he did not want to play anywhere else. While that still appears to be the case, Smith’s NFL future is much cloudier.
“At this time I must take time away from the game & get my world in order,” Smith wrote. “I must give this time back to myself, my family & my health. … I know the rumors of trade talk came about, but I started my career in Jacksonville & the day I do decide to call it quits will be right here in Duval.”
This appears to have caught the Jaguars by surprise as well.
“We will not have a comment about Telvin Smith’s statement at this time,” the team said in a statement. “We need to have a conversation with Telvin to understand the situation and the circumstances.”
Smith, 28, has been a Jaguars starter for all five years of his career. He earned Pro Bowl acclaim during a 2017 season that ended with the Jags on the Super Bowl precipice. Last season, he led the team in tackles by a significant margin with 134. The Florida State alum has been one of the NFL’s best off-ball linebackers, having been the only player to record 100-plus tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in each of the past three seasons, per Warren Sharp of SharpFootballAnalysis.com (Twitter link). Smith has nine career picks, returning three for touchdowns, and six fumble recoveries.
Although Smith appeared on the Jags’ injury report with a shoulder injury at points last year, he did not miss a game. The former second-round pick has missed just four games in five seasons. The Jags extended Smith (four years, $44MM) in October 2017. Three years remain on his contract; the Jags stand to control his rights if he returns. Smith was scheduled to count $12.56MM toward Jacksonville’s 2019 cap. Now, the team will have to call an audible at outside ‘backer.
This makes Jacksonville’s third-round selection of Quincy Williams, a player most analysts did not consider a Day 2-caliber talent, more interesting. The Murray State alum could now play a bigger part for the Jags as a rookie. Myles Jack is entering a contract year. The Jags also signed former Packers starting inside linebacker Jake Ryan.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.