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Zone Reaction: Paul Posluszny retirement


1.He went out a winner.The first thought here upon learning Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was announcing his retirement Tuesday was, "Thank goodness for him 2017 happened as it did." I figured he likely thought that, too – and he indeed mentioned the 2017 AFC South title and the ensuing run to the AFC Championship Game prominently in his retirement letter Tuesday. Posluszny, the definition of professionalism and class in seven Jaguars seasons, never had experienced a winning season or playoff season in 10 NFL seasons before this past season. It was fitting that he had a chance to experience both in what turned out to be his final professional season.

2.He was as good a free-agent signing as you can imagine.The second thought on Posluszny retiring was that he should be remembered as one of the best free-agent signings in franchise history. This was definitely true before the last couple of seasons, when the team won free agency in historical fashion with signings such as defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, cornerback A.J. Bouye, etc. Before that remarkable run of success that transformed the Jaguars' defense into one of the NFL's best last season, Posluszny ranked among the top free agents in franchise history. That list before the last two offseasons began with the 1996 signing class that included Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan McCardell and Pro Bowl right tackle Leon Searcy. After that, the Jaguars had a long period of so-so and disastrous signings with the highlight perhaps longtime linebacker Mike Peterson. Posluszny signed at the beginning of a long downturn for the franchise, but he played at a high level throughout his career and should be remembered as a free-agent success story at a time when such stories were rare.

3.He was good.Really good. It has become vogue in some circles to criticize Posluszny for a perceived lack of speed that hurt him in coverage. That was overblown and perhaps even a myth; he had good instincts in coverage and his 11 career interceptions rank fifth in franchise history. But for six seasons he was one of the Jaguars' top defensive players, and for many of those seasons he was the team's best defensive player and perhaps the best player on the team. Posluszny will be missed for many reasons. He was a class act whose work ethic will serve as a model for all players who played with him. He was a leader and front-line player during a lot of difficult seasons for the franchise. He was a standup person who didn't duck postgame interviews following difficult losses. He was, in short, a professional's professional. But none of that should take away that he was one of the top middle linebackers in the NFL for more than a decade, and a player who should be remembered as such by Jaguars fans long after his career.

4.He'll be remembered long after Tuesday.I had a chance to speak with Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith early Tuesday. While the full story on that interview will be on later Tuesday, what I took most from talking to Smith was what Posluszny meant not only to Smith, but to the entire Jaguars linebacker corps, defense and team. Smith talked extensively of Posluszny's professionalism and leadership, and Smith – a 2017 Pro Bowl selection – made clear he believed the success of last season doesn't happen without Posluszny's influence. Smith also said he'll be dedicating next season to his friend and former teammate, adding that Posluszny's influence will be felt heavily for the next few years – as long as the current core of the defense is playing for the Jaguars.

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