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Free agents saw potential with what Urban Meyer, Jaguars are building

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin #of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Washington Football Team in the first half at FedExField on December 20, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) (Timothy Nwachukwu, 2020 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There was no sales pitch needed. They see the potential.

Three of the Jaguars more prominent free-agent signings spoke Thursday afternoon and offered up similar tones on what they saw in joining the worst team in the NFL.

Jacksonville just felt right.

Anyone can see coach Urban Meyer’s track record.

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin said the Jaguars were the “clear choice” to him.

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins said that he believes in coach Meyer’s coaching acumen.

Defensive lineman Ray Robertson-Harris joked that it was destined to happen. His nine-month-old son is named Jax.

“Once Jacksonville called me, it’s like, well shoot, it’s destined. It ended up working out,” Robertson-Harris said.

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It was all smiles and positivity on Thursday as Jacksonville unveiled three of its 12 free agent signings. Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke’s first haul of players was a massive one, and they didn’t break the bank in doing so.

Questions certainly remain, like who’s going to play tight end, but the Jaguars addressed some glaring needs.

Griffin, Jenkins and Robertson-Harris are among the team’s biggest investments in free agency, with contracts totaling $103.9 million ($59 million in guarantees). It so happens that they’re all on the defensive side of the ball, a unit that was strafed throughout a miserable 1-15 season that led to a franchise overhaul.

Griffin said that he didn’t need a persuasive sales pitch to see what Jacksonville was after.

“I had a conversation with my mom earlier, on the way here, and she was asking me how I felt. And the only words I had [were] that it feels right. It feels right, you know, taking it all in – you could see I’m like a little kid in a candy store for the first time,” he said. “So, I like that excitement, it feels great and it makes you want to go even harder. I feel like I can get started right now if I needed to.”

Griffin, who grew up in St. Petersburg and went to college at the University of Central Florida, spent four seasons with the Seahawks. He’s expected to start opposite second-year corner CJ Henderson and provide the Jaguars with a shutdown duo for the years to come.

Griffin doesn’t know many of his new teammates, but he knows one of the new members very well. He and Jenkins grew up together in St. Petersburg and played on the same peewee football team when they were kids. Jenkins said that “chemistry is already there” with Griffin, and that will only help going forward.

“I see the vision that Coach Meyer is trying to build here. I’m a Florida guy so that was an easy decision in my book. And Coach Meyer wins,” Jenkins said. “You look at his track record, you know, I think he’s lost like 17 games in, I don’t know how long, 20 years, something like that. Everything’s there. The track record is there. Why not Jacksonville? Perfect landing spot for me and my family, and we’re looking forward to making it happen.”

Robertson-Harris, a former undrafted free agent who spent four seasons with the Bears, said that he’s grateful to have earned a contract. His 2020 season ended with a shoulder injury, but Robertson-Harris said that he’ll be cleared medically by early next month.

“They says three and a half years is the average time for guys in the NFL, so being undrafted, like you said, and then making it to where I am now today signing a new deal is a blessing,” he said. “This is all God’s plan. He makes no mistakes and I’m thankful for every opportunity that I have right now just to be able to play ball again.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.