Sam Kouvaris: Jaguars spend money, goodwill in free agency
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – And now we wait.
With a big push in free-agency, the Jaguars have stocked their team with new talent, potentially adding six new starters for their 2015 roster.
Although General Manager Dave Caldwell said he hasn't spent as much money as he expected, the Jaguars have committed $175 million to free agents so far, with $78 million of that guaranteed.
"Our aim in free agency was to help Blake. Everything we wanted to do was get him some help and I think we did that," Caldwell said on Wednesday. "It's been a fun last 48 hours from a team standpoint working with the staff and the coaches." Caldwell admitted to targeting five potential free agents and getting three. Randal Cobb and Devin McCourty re-signed with their original teams. The Jaguars signed Julius Thomas from Denver, Jared Odrick from Miami and the Cowboy's Jermey Parnell. In addition the Jaguars signed contracts with cornerback Davon House from Green Bay, San Francisco linebacker Dan Skuta and Colts free safety Sergio Brown.
Thomas is the big catch having scored 24 touchdowns with 108 receptions over the last two years in Denver. Although he was catching passes thrown by Peyton Manning he was quick to point out, "there are a lot of factors for the production I had in Denver, not just Peyton." Thomas was so thoughtful with his answers and forthright and honest that his press conference turned into more of a conversation than anything else. At the end, he thanked the media and walked around the room, shaking hands and introducing himself to everyone in attendance. Last time that happened with a player was never. (Mike Mularkey did it once but that's about it.)
It's clear that the Jaguars have vetted their potential free agent targets as much as people as they do as players.
"How they approached me as a person more than as a player," is how Odrick answered as to ‘why' he chose the Jaguars. "You never want to sign the papers and have a pit in your stomach. I've been walking around here with a smile on my face all day. And it's not because of some numbers on a contract, it's because of the people I've met."
"I was pleased to hear that when they asked people in the league about me they said I was a good person," Thomas responded when I asked him about being checked out by the Jaguars. I met with Coach Gus today and he's the type you just want to go play for."
In the three seasons that Caldwell and Bradley have been together, they have brought in the same type of player in free agency and in the draft. They're all in what you would call the "ascending" phase of their career, just about all in the 20's and all have a thread of personality that matches what's already in the locker room. Thoughtful, earnest and willing to work are the trademarks of the personality type.
With the addition of new starters on the offensive line, at tight end, linebacker, defensive line and in the defensive backfield, the focus shifts to the draft and what they can do to upgrade with the 3rd overall pick. If Leonard Williams is there, they'll take him. Outside of that, they'll be willing to listen to offers, if there are any, to move up to that spot. Help at running back (still a free-agent possibility), wide receiver and depth are still priorities but the Jaguars have fulfilled their promise to upgrade the team.
"You deserve better," Shad Khan said last month addressing the fans and the nine wins the team has had in the last three years.
This group should go a long way toward that goal. They are a solid bunch of guys with only one question remaining:
Can they play?
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