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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

Did Byron Leftwich force Jaguars to fire GM Trent Baalke?

Trent Baalke at a press conference

Byron Leftwich is viewed as the favorite to be named the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he may want them to make a major front office move before he signs on the dotted line.

A report earlier this week claimed Leftwich was close to finalizing a deal with the Jaguars. Those talks have since stalled, and that may have something to do with general manager Trent Baalke. First Coast News sports director Chris Porter reported on Thursday morning that Leftwich wants the Jaguars to fire Baalke and hire Arizona Cardinals executive Adrian Wilson as their next GM.

Leftwich has a relationship with Wilson from Leftwich’s time with the Cardinals. Prior to being hired as the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Leftwich was an assistant coach in Arizona for two seasons.

Leftwich may have gotten his way. According to Mike Jurecki of the Cardinals’ official website, Jacksonville is working toward hiring Wilson as GM and Leftwich as head coach.

Baalke is extremely unpopular in Jacksonville. Thousands of Jaguars fans dressed in clown costumes for the final game in the regular season to show the team how unhappy they are with the job Baalke has done. There have been reports that some candidates would only have interest in the Jaguars head coaching job if Baalke were fired.

It would appear Leftwich is one of those coaches. The 42-year-old is suddenly drawing interest from another NFL team, but he has ties to the Jags organization. Leftwich was drafted by Jacksonville in the first round back in 2003 and started 44 games for the Jags.

Before he joined the Jaguars’ front office in 2020, Baalke’s previous job was as GM of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016. The Niners enjoyed great success early in Baalke’s tenure with the team, but he has been criticized for forcing Jim Harbaugh out. It would hardly be a surprise if Leftwich didn’t want to work under him.

Photo: Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke during Friday afternoon’s press conference at TIAA Bank Field. After his arrival in Jacksonville, Florida Friday morning, April 30, 2021, Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick Trevor Lawrence along with team owner Shad Khan, head coach Urban Meyer and the Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke held a press conference in the afternoon inside TIAA Bank Field. They were also joined by the Jaguars 25th pick in the first round of the draft and former Clemson teammate of Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

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