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Thanks for the memories: Former WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew took Jaguars on fun ride

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 30, 2021

Quarterback Gardner Minshew walks on the field for the Jacksonville Jaguars before an NFL preseason football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Minshew, the former Washington State QB, was traded to Philadelphia on Saturday.  (Brett Duke)
Quarterback Gardner Minshew walks on the field for the Jacksonville Jaguars before an NFL preseason football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Minshew, the former Washington State QB, was traded to Philadelphia on Saturday. (Brett Duke)
By Gene Frenette Tribune News Service

Tribune News Service

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ parting of ways with Gardner Minshew, which seemed sort of inevitable since the March signing of free agent quarterback C.J. Beathard, ended up coming off both as awkward and pretty much necessary.

It was by no means the bitter divorce when Jalen Ramsey got traded to the Los Angeles Rams or the business-like, salary-cap purge of dealing Calais Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens.

But the whole Minshew Mania thing had obviously run its course. Though Urban Meyer gave the former Washington State standout a surprising amount of first-team reps over Trevor Lawrence in training camp – clearly as a message that even a No. 1 overall draft pick wasn’t being handed a starting job – his last two weeks on the job apparently convinced the Jaguars there was no longer a compelling reason to keep him around.

After Sunday’s 34-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the final preseason game, Meyer didn’t specifically address why Minshew was traded Saturday to the Philadelphia Eagles. He complimented his warrior mentality and how he’d always be a “big fan” of his career moving forward, then moved on.

Clearly, a combination of Minshew’s so-so performances in two preseason appearances and the Eagles’ desire to retain him as an insurance policy behind Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco set the wheels in motion.

For starters, Minshew had some cringe-worthy plays in last week’s preseason loss to the New Orleans Saints. With the Eagles – where former Jaguars’ GM Dave Caldwell is employed as a personnel executive – offering the decent trade value of a conditional sixth-round draft pick, on top of Beathard’s superb play in the first two preseason games, shipping Minshew to Philly felt like a separation of convenience.

So just like that, the greatest character and fun-loving player in team history is no longer a Jaguar. Fittingly, Minshew left with mostly an appropriate thanks-for-the-memories reaction from fans on social media and others who were intimately a part of his memorable 2019 rookie season.

“His teammates, fans, media, coaches, they all liked him,” said former Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone, now the offensive line coach at Alabama, in a phone interview Sunday. “There’s nothing negative you can say about the way he presented himself or worked. There’s great appreciation for what he did.”

What Minshew did, sporting that trademark headband and handlebar moustache right out of the 1970s, was bring an entertainment factor quite unlike anybody who ever suited up for the Jaguars. Sure, his arm strength might have been average at best, but Minshew’s personality, swagger and fashion style immediately made him a fan favorite.

After being thrust into the spotlight in the 2019 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs when starter Nick Foles broke his collarbone, Minshew ultimately showed he was more than just a lovable, eccentric quarterback wearing jorts. He could actually come in and win games, going 6-6 as a starter.

Now he’s off to Philly, hoping to reinvent himself with one of the NFL’s most intense and demanding fan bases. Put in the right situation, it’s not inconceivable Minshew could be just good enough to collect an NFL paycheck for another 10 years.

Maybe he can have another run in Philly or elsewhere like he did in 2019. One thing Minshew fans know for certain: You can never quite count out the quarterback with a colorful personality and relentless desire to prove his naysayers wrong.

Jacksonville is Trevor Lawrence’s team now and may well be for the next 15 years. But for the brief time Gardner Minshew wore black and teal, he was both a serviceable quarterback and one tantalizingly entertaining showman.

Former WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew was recently traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional 2022 sixth-round pick. ASSOCIATED PRESS

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