JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars have finally given up on quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
The No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft never became the franchise quarterback former general manager Gene Smith envisioned when he traded two picks to get him and on Tuesday the Jaguars traded him to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft and a possible conditional pick in 2015.
“We have a good relationship with San Francisco and it was a good opportunity for the Jacksonville Jaguars to increase our stock in the draft but it was also a good opportunity for Blaine to get a fresh start,” Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said. “I know they’re excited about having him and it’s a good move for all parties involved.”
Caldwell said he and San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke discussed Gabbert as a player while the teams were in London in late October and had follow-up discussions at the NFL combine in February. Caldwell said Baalke called on Saturday and made an offer.
“We thought highly of Blaine as an early entry into the 2011 NFL Draft,” Baalke said in a statement. “He is a high-character individual that will be given every opportunity to develop within our system and we are looking forward to working with him.”
Caldwell said he spoke with Gabbert’s agent Monday night and to Gabbert on Tuesday morning.
“I know you guys [in the media] are hard on him at times, but he’s been great for us,” Caldwell said. “In my time here he’s been a great teammate. His teammates like him. Our coaches liked him. I liked him. I have nothing but respect for Blaine and how he went about his business this year and how he worked and how he competed.”
Gabbert’s career in Jacksonville has been anything but smooth. Smith traded the Jaguars’ first-round pick (No. 16) and second-round pick (No. 49) to Washington and took the former Missouri quarterback with the 10th overall pick in 2011. The Jaguars’ starter was supposed to be David Garrard, who was in the fourth-year of an seven-year, $60 million contract, but in a surprise move the team released Garrard just five days before the 2011 season opener.
That put the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Gabbert on the field before he was ready and he was never able to develop any momentum. Gabbert was 5-22 as a starter and threw 22 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions in 28 career games. He threw for more than one touchdown in a game only four times.
Plus, he couldn’t stay healthy. He missed games because of injuries to his shoulder, forearm (the final six games of the 2012 season), thumb, hamstring, and a cut on his hand. He also battled an ankle injury during training camp this July and missed two games with a hamstring injury. He failed to finish six of his last 10 starts (including preseason) because of those injuries.
Gabbert started three games in 2013 and completed 49 percent of his passes for 481 yards and one touchdown with seven interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns. He suffered a hamstring injury against St. Louis in Week 5, was inactive for the next two games, and was benched in favor of Chad Henne.
Gabbert has one year remaining on his rookie contract and will count $3.82 million against the salary cap.
Covered University of Florida for 13 seasons for ESPN.com and Florida Times-Union
Graduate of Jacksonville University
Multiple APSE award winner