Dawuane Smoot -- not Josh Allen -- has emerged as Jacksonville Jaguars' sack leader, and at the perfect time

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot doesn’t put a cap on the number of sacks he wants to have each season.

He does, however, have a minimum threshold.

“That minimum I’m looking to get [is] six sacks,” Smoot said. “Everything else is just a cherry on top.”

If he keeps up this current pace -- five sacks through nine games -- he is going to have a lot of cherries by the time the season ends. After a two-sack performance in last Sunday’s 27-20 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, Smoot now leads the team in sacks and is on pace to reach double digits for the first time in his six-year career.

It couldn’t be coming at a better time because he is in the second year of a two-year, $10 million contract and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Though he said he'd like to sign an extension with the Jaguars, he’s not going to worry about that until the season is over.

“I'm not focused on the contract every single day,” Smoot said. “I'm not focused on those things. I'm focused on the mindset that I had before I started getting all these sacks. I'm just trying to stay in that mindset [of] I still gotta go get it each week.

“You start thinking about the future, you're taking your mind away from the present.”

Right now Smoot is arguably the Jaguars’ most effective pass-rusher. He isn’t getting the same amount of pressure that outside linebacker Josh Allen is on quarterbacks -- Allen has 31 QB pressures to Smoot's 12 -- but he has two more sacks than Allen in 255 fewer overall defensive snaps and 93 fewer pass-rush snaps.

Smoot also has one of the most important sacks of the season. He dropped Raiders quarterback Derek Carr for a seven-yard loss on third down with less than 50 seconds remaining to cement the Jaguars’ comeback victory and snap a five-game losing streak. This was a team that has either tied or had a lead in the fourth quarter in five of their six losses, but couldn’t make a play on defense to close the deal -- until Smoot's sack.

Smoot -- who has lined up at defensive end and outside linebacker -- has not played more than 31% of the defensive snaps in any game this season, but that could be something that changes going forward after Smoot’s 3.5 sacks and five quarterback hits in the past two games.

“I think his versatility really speaks for itself,” defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said. “He’s a guy that can play inside and play outside. He can drop into coverage. He can rush the quarterback. He does so many things for us that we just have to get him on the field and let him go.

“It’s definitely important to get him on the field. There’s certain situations where we want to try to get him more reps.”

After not recording a sack in his first two seasons, Smoot has been remarkably consistent the past three-plus seasons: six in 2019, 5.5 in 2020, six last season and now five and counting. He knows that the more he posts this season in his limited playing time means the higher his potential contract could be.

He has a chance to get more sacks when the Jaguars' (3-6) face Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) on Sunday (1 ET, CBS). A good performance in that game could go a long way come contract time.

“[Knowing this is a contract year is] definitely there,” Smoot said with a laugh. “And my wife, she definitely reminds me every day [it’s a] contract year. We gotta make sure we're putting the best film out there for sure.”