AP source: Jaguars upgrade defense with trio of free agents
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars made another huge splash in free agency Thursday, signing three starters expected to make a decent defense dynamic.
The Jaguars agreed to terms with Houston cornerback A.J. Bouye, Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell and Dallas safety Barry Church on contracts totaling more than $150 million, according to a person familiar with the deals. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Jaguars won't announce any moves until players formally sign Friday.
The trio should significantly improve a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL in 2016 but failed to generate game-changing turnovers.
The 25-year-old Bouye agreed to a five-year deal worth $67.5 million, the person said, with $26 million guaranteed. Bouye replaces Prince Amukamara and will play opposite budding star Jalen Ramsey. Together, they should make the Jaguars considerably tougher to thrown against.
''(hash)Jaguars have instantly just became one of best CB tandems in league over-night!!!'' retired NFL receiver Steve Smith tweeted.
Campbell agreed to a four-year deal worth $60 million, the person said, with $30 million guaranteed. He chose Jacksonville over Denver. Church agreed to a four-year contract worth $26 million, the person said.
The 30-year-old Campbell will replace Jared Odrick, who was released last month. Campbell had 501 tackles, eight forced fumbles and three interceptions in nine seasons with the Cardinals. He also missed just six games.
The 29-year-old Church will replace Johnathan Cyprien, a second-round draft pick in 2013. Cyprien had more than 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons, but he rarely made big plays. Cyprien has two interceptions and four forced fumbles in 60 games. Church has 488 tackles, seven forced fumbles and five interceptions in seven seasons with the Cowboys. He missed four games last year because of a broken forearm.
All three are considered upgrades from what Jacksonville played with last season.
The Jaguars also agreed to terms with Buffalo linebacker Lerentee McCray on a one-year deal worth up to $3.5 million, the person said. The deal includes $1 million guaranteed. McCray, who was born and raised in nearby Ocala, is expected to play a backup role behind Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack in 2017 while serving as a key member on special teams.
It's the third consecutive year owner Shad Khan agreed to spend big in free agency, especially on defense. The Jaguars signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson and cornerback Prince Amukamara in 2016, and added defensive end Jared Odrick, cornerback Davon House and linebacker Dan Skuta the previous year. Not all were hits since Odrick and House were released recently. And Skuta is no lock to make the team.
As much praise as the Jaguars got for landing three of the top defenders available Thursday, the moves raised questions about a lackluster offense. Jacksonville's failure to find any consistency on that side of the ball last season was the main reason for the team's 3-13 record and the dismissal of coach Gus Bradley.
The biggest moves top executive Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone have made so far on offense is trading for Miami left tackle Branden Albert and parting ways with tight end Julius Thomas.
Those trades were formally announced Thursday.
The Jaguars traded their 2018 seventh-round pick to Miami in exchange for Albert, a two-time Pro Bowler entering his 10th season. The Dolphins traded their 2017 seventh-round pick to Jacksonville for the oft-injured Thomas.
Albert has started 118 of 120 career games since originally being selected by Kansas City with the 15th overall pick in the 2008 draft. He should improve a line that struggled to create holes for the running game and give quarterback Blake Bortles much time in the pocket.
Also Thursday, the Jaguars re-signed receiver Bryan Walters and released defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, granting the veteran's wish to play elsewhere.
Marks was due a $1 million roster bonus Thursday and due to make another $3.45 million in base salary in the final year of his contract. The Jaguars failed to find a trade partner for the 30-year-old Marks in recent weeks.
Marks missed 12 games in 2015, five while recovering from a torn knee ligament and the final seven with an elbow injury. He was a backup in 2016 behind Malik Jackson and unhappy about his reduced role.
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