Jaguars' free agent additions part of focus on winning Super Bowl

Six new signings added in first day of free agency

Andrew Norwell, Donte Moncrief, Niles Paul and TJ Hayden are among the biggest hires by the Jaguars this week.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The representation of the Lombardi Trophy on the wall of the Jaguars' team meeting room tells you all you need to know about their goals for 2018. 

Building on the success in 2017-and with the addition of  six free agents on the first official day of the signing period, the Jaguars are focused on winning a championship in 2018.

"At one point in time, it was very difficult to get guys to pay visits here," said Jaguars' general manager David Caldwell. "Players know the culture we have, that football is a top priority."

The biggest signing is also the biggest player among the new Jaguars, guard Andrew Norwell. The former Carolina Panther earned All-Pro recognition in 2017 and will immediately upgrade the Jaguars left guard position.

"Andrew was our big-ticket item," Caldwell said. "We thought he was one of the best players out there in free agency. He's going to bring an element to solidify the offensive line. We have a philosophy of how we want to play and he fits all of those: nasty, run blcoker, pass blocker."

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Addressing the offensive line appeared to be the No. 1 goal of the Jaguars during free agency. They will reportedly sign former Panthers offensive guard Andrew Norwell to a 5-year $66.5 million in salary, with $30 million guaranteed. That is the largest deal in NFL history for an offensive guard. Norwell will likely step in and replace Patrick Omameh at left guard.

Norwell's decision came quickly, part of that he attributed to the Jaguars' culture and physical approach to the running game.

"I love the mentality here, especially on the offensive side," Norwell said. "You have a great group in the O-line room. I can't wait. Running the ball, its awesome. You set the tone of the game. To have a coach like (Doug Marrone), it's just awesome. I fell that this team is going to pick up right where they left off and go win a Super Bowl."

In addition to Norwell, the Jaguars added another probable starter in wide receiver Donte Moncreif, a former Indianapolis Colt. The Jaguars receiving corps projects to have Moncreif, Maqise Lee-who the team re-signed this week-along with second-year players Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, and veteran Allen Hurns. Jaydon Mickens is available, but his major contribution would figure to be as a return man. The Jaguars also have Rashad Greene, who missed last season with an injury, under contract.

"He's a big play receiver," Caldwell said. "Kind of on a 'prove-it' deal this year. Opposite of Marqise, that gives us two good speed guys there."

Moncreif has been dealing with shoulder and toe injuries the past two seasons, but said that he is ready to go in 2018.

"I love that deal. I'm going to show these guys what I can do and give Jacksonville all I've got to help these guys win," Moncreif said.

Lee's return was a surprise at one point to Lee himself, but he rejoins to a team that fell just minutes short of reaching the Super Bowl.

"My main focus is to work on what we need to fix, and from that point move forward," Lee said. "(Moncreif) is a strong receiver. He's capable of getting the job done. As far as making some plays, I now he can do that."

Last year, the Jaguars played more defensive snaps in nickel than in base, making the signing of former first-round pick D.J. Hayden virtually like adding a starter.

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"He can blitz, he can play the run and he has good zone-to-man skills. We think he'll be a good fit for us," Caldwell said.

With the loss of Arrelious Benn and with Peyton Thompson still a free agent, the Jaguars special teams needed an infusion of talent. That's where Cody Davis and Don Carey, in his second tour of duty with the team, can help the Jaguars coverage units.

"He's the top special teams player," Caldwell said of Cody. "We think Cody can be our third safety and get some playing time there."

Davis, who left a young ascending team, the Los Angeles Rams, to join the Jaguars, said he was excited about the potential in Jacksonville.

There are still some significant players remaining on the market, including safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was released by the Cardinals in a salary camp move. "The Honey Badger" is a versatile player, although he would be a luxury for a Jaguars team that already signed Hayden, Carey and Davis to the defensive backfield. 

Carey, who played for the Jaguars from 2009-2010, said there was some familiarity, but that plenty was 

"So much has changed that is brand new," Carey said. "(In his first tour) I was young and dumb. The reality of the NFL being 'not for long' showed me that I needed to do things differently. I landed in Detroit and made the best of every single moment. I'm a much more mature player (now)."

Caldwell also noted the versatility of Niles Paul, who is listed as a tight end, but could be used as a receiver and fullback, as well as on special teams.

"From the moment I was at the Senior Bowl, it was clear that teams were looking for special teams player," Paul said. "I learned that guys with longevity play special teams."

Of the Jaguars' two free agent departures, Caldwell admitted that they were closer to keeping cornerback Aaron Colvin than wide receiver Allen Robinson. Colvin signed with the Houston Texans, while Robinson joined the Chicago Bears.

The Jaguars do not currently have a backup quarterback on the roster, with Chad Henne now a free agent.

"We realize that we have to address that. We have a plan in place," Caldwell said. "It doesn't have to be a veteran. It can be."

The team was also reportedly meeting with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.


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