Jaguars announce signings of free agents Dennard, Gunter, Schobert
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an offseason of purging salary and trading players, the Jaguars finally added to the roster on Thursday.
The Jaguars officially announced the signings of linebacker Joe Schobert, defensive tackle Rodney Gunter and cornerback Darqueze Dennard, two days after the deals were agreed to. NFL teams had been told that they had to wait until physicals were finalized before they could announce signings were official.
Jacksonville’s offseason had been more on the getting-rid-of side rather than adding new players, so the signings were a welcome sight for a team coming off of a 6-10 season.
The biggest add in free agency was Schobert, a Pro Bowler in 2017 with Cleveland. A fourth-round pick by the Browns in 2016, Schobert is the projected starter at middle linebacker. That will push Myles Jack from middle to outside linebacker.
According to Spotrac, Schobert’s contract is five years and worth $53.75 million, with $21.5 million guaranteed.
“We really feel great about the things Joe has been able to do and what he adds to our team,” said Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone. “He brings an ability to tackle and diagnose plays. He’s a true middle linebacker and has played it at a high level. He’s really going to help us, not only at the MIKE linebacker position, but he also helps us overall across our whole linebacking corps.
"This gives us the ability to move Myles Jack to outside linebacker, which I feel is a more natural position for him. Myles and I spoke about the change and he’s excited.”
Gunter, who played with the Cardinals since he was a fourth-round pick in 2015, had 31 tackles and three sacks last season. His best year came in 2018 when he started 10 games and had a career-best 44 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
“We really like what Rodney brings to the team, both as a player and as a person, and we think he can play multiple positions for us,” Marrone said. “We know he’s a good player against the run, but we think we can get some three-down play out of him and get some pass-rush. We have high expectations for him, and we are excited about him. He is one of the pieces that we feel is going to help us defend the run and help us become a better defense.”
Dennard was a first-round pick of the Bengals in 2014 and spent his first six seasons with that franchise. He had 251 tackles, 22 passes defensed and three interceptions. Jacksonville has to all but remake its outer secondary from what it started 2018 with. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey were the starting corners in Week 1 last season.
“We feel really good about his skill level to play outside,” Marrone said. “He’s a press corner and wants to play outside. He wants to prove that he can do it, and we believe that he can, so it was a good fit for us. D.J. Hayden is our starting nickel corner. I talked to D.J., and we’re extremely happy with him in that spot.”
The Jaguars also announced that they reached an agreement to re-sign offensive lineman Tyler Shatley, who has started 16 games and appeared in 78 in his career with Jacksonville.
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