Thursday, March 13, 2014
Jaguars trying to ring in new era
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There’s going to be a lot more bling inside the Jaguars' locker room this season.
In the past three days, the Jaguars have signed three players who appeared in the Super Bowl in February: former Denver guard Zane Beadles and former Seattle defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. While that wasn’t by design, it’s a circumstance that general manager David Caldwell hopes to exploit as he continues to reshape and build the Jaguars in his second season.
Nothing ensures credibility like success and that’s something most of the players on the Jaguars’ roster have experienced little of.
"It’s not just the fact they played in the Super Bowl but all three came from winning organizations, which is important," Caldwell said. "They have been through playoff games and they know what it takes to get to where we want to be.
"They know what it takes to get better."
It wouldn’t be strange to see one player from one of the league’s top teams sign a free-agent contract with one of the league’s worst teams. Two might not garner much attention, either. But three is a bit unusual. Granted, two of the players -- Clemons and Bryant -- played for Jaguars coach Gus Bradley when he was Seattle’s defensive coordinator from 2009-12, so that played a part in pulling them to Jacksonville.
But all three players had offers from other teams, including some that made the playoffs in 2013, and somehow ended up together with a Jaguars organization that has won just 11 games in the past three seasons and hasn’t had a winning season since 2007.
The two former Seahawks are here now because they had made the decision to try and end up with the same team should they be released as part of Seattle’s salary-cap management. Bryant was released on Feb. 28 and the Jaguars signed him March 8. The Seahawks released Clemons four days later and less than 24 hours after that he was signing a four-year deal with the Jaguars on Thursday.
"Once a lot of teams win the Super Bowl, some teams keep them together and some teams dismantle the whole team," Clemons said. "We are a group of guys that understand each other and know each other pretty well. That’s our plan. Me and Red had talked about it already when our names first started coming up about the salary cap: ‘Wherever you go, let me know so I can try and fit myself in because we know each other so well.’
"Once you have that camaraderie with somebody it’s hard to actually go and find it somewhere else."
Beadles had wanted to stay in Denver -- which has geared itself up for a run at another Super Bowl in Peyton Manning’s final seasons by signing Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, and DeMarcus Ware -- but he and the Broncos were not close in negotiations. He was the Jaguars’ top offensive line target and quickly agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal just hours after the free-agency period began.
Beadles goes from one of the league’s top offenses to one of its worst.
"I think a lot of people would look at that and say, ‘What’s going on there?’" Beadles said. "But to me it’s a good challenge. Like I said, I went from a team that was 4-12 my rookie year to being in the Super Bowl my fourth year."
That’s a progression the Jaguars would like to make as well, and Caldwell is banking on the three Super Bowl participants playing a key role.