JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville’s top free agent target was the first to make it official Wednesday as former Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas signed a five-year contract worth $46 million with the Jaguars.
Five others quickly followed.
Miami defensive end Jared Odrick, Dallas right tackle Jermey Parnell, Green Bay cornerback Davon House, San Francisco linebacker Dan Skuta and Indianapolis free safety Sergio Brown all signed contracts with Jacksonville. The six are scheduled to attend an afternoon news conference at EverBank Field.
The Jaguars committed a combined $175 million, including $78 million guaranteed, to lands the new starters.
Thomas’ deal includes $24 million guaranteed.
Odrick signed a five-year, $42.5 million contract that includes $22 million. Parnell inked a five-year, $32 million deal that includes $13 million guaranteed. House signed for four years and $25 million, including $10 million guaranteed. Skuta signed for five years and $20.5 million, with $8 million guaranteed. And Brown inked a three-year, $9 million contract that included $1 million guaranteed.
Jacksonville, which went 9-39 the last three years, had nearly $70 million in salary cap space and planned to spend big in free agency. They still have money to spend and have been in talks with Dallas running back DeMarco Murray, who led the league with 1,845 yards on the ground last season.
Thomas was the most significant addition, giving second-year quarterback Blake Bortles a reliable route-runner and talented pass-catcher to work the middle of the field.
Thomas had 108 receptions for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons with Denver, and that was despite missing time last season with a left ankle injury.
Odrick spent the last five seasons with the Dolphins but was the odd man out when Miami targeted free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. He is expected to start at strong-side defensive end in Jacksonville, making Red Bryant’s future uncertain. Bryant is scheduled to count $4.5 million against the salary cap and is due a $500,000 roster bonus on March 15.
Parnell should help fill Jacksonville’s top need. The Jaguars allowed a franchise-record 71 sacks last season, and providing Bortles with better protection was the top priority for the offseason.
He started one game in 2012 and another in 2013 before seeing extensive action last season. Parnell started five regular-season games and both playoff games at right tackle — and played well enough for the Jaguars to notice.
House, Skuta and Brown are projected starters, too.
House played in 13 games with four starts for the Packers in 2014 but missed the final three regular-season games because of a shoulder injury. Skuta had 35 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles with San Francisco last season. He started nine games at outside linebacker in place of the suspended Aldon Smith.
Brown started eight games for Indianapolis in 2014, recording 34 tackles and breaking up six passes.
This article was written by Mark Long from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.