Jaguars sign P Nortman, several more free agents to follow
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Malik Jackson's past few months have been tough to top.
First a daughter. Then a Super Bowl ring. And now a $90 million contract.
''It's definitely a beautiful year,'' Jackson said Thursday, shortly after signing a six-year deal worth about $90 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It includes $42 million guaranteed.
Now comes the hard part.
''It's all written down, but at the same time you have to go out there and earn it,'' said Jackson, a versatile defensive lineman who had 134 tackles and 14 sacks in four years in Denver. ''They don't give you 90 (million) today. So it's not like I have it in my account and I can just go sit down and not do anything. It's not like basketball where I can get it all guaranteed. You still got to play. I've got to go earn all of it. Six years, $42, $45 guaranteed, and I want 90 of it.
''I want all 90, so I have six years to go out there and earn it, and that's how I feel about it.''
Jackson was the most high-profile of four free agents to sign with Jacksonville on Thursday, joining former Cleveland Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, former New York Jets running back Chris Ivory and former Carolina Panthers punter Brad Nortman.
The Jaguars gave the foursome deals totaling more than $166 million, including $65.65 million guaranteed.
Gipson, who intercepted 14 passes in four years in Cleveland, signed a five-year deal worth $36 million. It includes $12 million guaranteed. The Jaguars expect him to be a sideline-to-sideline ball hawk who will allow strong safety Johnathan Cyprien to play closer to the line of scrimmage.
Ivory, who ran for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns last season, signed a five-year deal worth $32 million. It includes $10 million guaranteed. A bruising runner with a knack for picking up first downs in short-yardage situations, he will complement second-year pro T.J. Yeldon. The Jaguars released running back Toby Gerhart on Thursday.
Nortman, who averaged 39.8 net yards a punt in 2015, signed a four-year deal worth $8.8 million. It includes $1.65 million guaranteed. Nortman replaces Bryan Anger, a third-round draft pick in 2012 the Jaguars infamously selected just ahead of defensive Olivier Vernon and quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Jaguars tried to sign Vernon in free agency, but were beaten out by the New York Giants. The Giants gave Vernon a five-year, $85 million contract.
''He was one of the guys we targeted,'' Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said. ''We were extremely aggressive with it, far out of our comfort zone to be honest with you. At the end of the day, we can't make him come here if he doesn't want to come here. ... You're not going to get them all.''
The Jaguars had to get Jackson and Gipson, though.
They will be immediate starters for a defense in dire need of more playmakers. The Jaguars gave up the second-most points (448) in franchise history last season and fired defensive coordinator Bob Babich.
Getting the defense turned around is critical for the Jaguars taking the next step in the AFC and coach Gus Bradley keeping his job beyond 2015.
Jackson could be the key. He will play inside for the Jaguars, teaming with nose tackle Roy Miller and defensive ends Jared Odrick and Dante Fowler Jr. in hopes of upgrading an inconsistent pass rush. Jacksonville ranked near the bottom of the league in sacks and really struggled to get off the field on third downs.
''He's going to bring an element of disruption,'' Caldwell said.
The last few months have been a whirlwind for Jackson. His daughter, Nahla, was born in December. He recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. And then he hit the free-agent market and landed one of the NFL's richest deals of 2016.
He flew to Jacksonville on owner Shad Khan's jet Thursday along with his girlfriend, daughter, mother, grandmother, sister and twin brother.
''Somebody like me who hasn't had too many injuries just come to $90 million. Who would have thought?'' Jackson said. ''Just try to come in here and do great things is what it's all about. Just truly blessed.''
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