This was probably not the roller coaster ride Jason Babin figured to take during the offseason. After being released by the Jaguars so the defensive end and the team could come together on a new contract that was less money, the team’s sack leader was released by the Jaguars early Thursday morning.
According to Mark Long of the Associated Press and Yahoo Sports, The move came Thursday morning, hours before the team's final day of a mandatory minicamp.
After signing Chris Clemons in free agency and with the development of fellow pass-rushers Andre Branch, Ryan Davis and rookie Chris Smith, there was little room for the 34-year-old Babin on a rebuilding roster. By releasing Babin now, the Jaguars are giving him a chance to catch on with another club before training camp.
Babin led the team with 7 1/2 sacks last season.
Smith may have been the deciding factor in letting Babin go. According to reports, the rookie from Arkansas has been turning heads so far at the team’s OTAs and the mandatory mini-camp the team is concluding this week.
“Chris Smith as a rusher did a good job today in 2-minute situations and third-down situations,” head coach Gus Bradley said on Jacksonville.com. “We saw a little pressure from him today. He did very good. He had a couple good rushes. He’s got the traits that we’re looking for. Now, we just need to see it in training camp.”
In addition to Smith’s impressive start with the team, the Jaguars will have free agent Chris Clemons from Seattle and third-year pass rusher Andre Branch to use in the “LEO” position.
Now, with the early release in the offseason, Babin has time to catch on with another team that can use an edge linebacker/defensive end. In the NFL, there is never a shortage of franchises that need help with pass rushers.
In other news…
With the signing of Blake Bortles to his $20.6 million contract on Tuesday, the team has two players left to sign. Both Marquis Lee and Allen Robinson, wide receivers chosen in the second round, are without a contract.
They are also two of about 10 rookies who are not signed yet but NFL teams. There is no timetable as to when the two receivers, who have both been injured during the team’s OTAS and mini-camp, will sign with the team.