The overhauling of what was one of the NFL’s least imposing defensive lines last season continues.
The Jacksonville Jaguars added end Chris Clemons, whom head coach Gus Bradley knows well from his years as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, and tackle Ziggy Hood, who played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, via free agency Thursday.
FOX Sports 1 NFL Insider Mike Garafolo reports Clemons’ deal is for four years, $17.5 million and Hood’s for four years, $16 million.
They also announced the re-signing of end Jason Babin, who led the team with 7 1/2 sacks but voided the final two years of his contract with them Monday.
Clemons, 32, was cut Wednesday by the Seahawks after they chose to re-sign Michael Bennett, and he immediately visited the Jaguars. An ACL injury suffered during the 2012 playoffs limited his effectiveness in Seattle’s march to the Super Bowl, but he had 33 1/2 sacks in the three previous seasons.
The addition of Clemons comes less than a week after Red Bryant, another defensive end who was deemed expendable by the Seahawks, signed a four-year contract with the Jaguars. Bryant is more of a run-stopper who should help a team which ranked 29th in rushing defense in 2013, while Clemons is expected to upgrade a pass rush which tied for the fewest sacks in the league in with 31.
"I came here because I wanted to help this team win, regardless of who the coach was," said Clemons, who also previously played for Philadelphia, Oakland and Washington. "The general manager (Dave Caldwell) and the owner (Shad Khan) were even excited about me coming here. So it was a win-win situation."
Clemens said the defensive scheme used by Jaguars defensive line coach Todd Wash is "a little bit different from the way we ran it in Seattle." But he believes many of the pieces are in place in order for the Jaguars, who started off with an 0-8 record but split their final eight games, to eventually duplicate the Seahawks’ success.
"It’s a new day, a new team, and a great opportunity to be able to help another organization win another championship," he said.
The release of Clemons by the Seahawks saved them $7.5 million in salary-cap space. Babin, who will turn 34 in May, went through something similar after being scheduled to make $6.175 million in the final two years of his contract that he signed while with the Eagles.
"It wasn’t like they didn’t know I was going to do it," Babin said of his restructured deal. "They were gracious enough to let me do it for, a lack of better words, the PR."
Babin will be entering his 11th season and was teammates with Bryant in Seattle in 2008 and with Clemons in Philadelphia in 2009.
"Ultimately, this was where I wanted to be and this was where I wanted to finish my career out," he said. "And the defensive line play … when you have that much talent and that much ability at one spot, it makes it fun and exciting. I think everyone’s going to be pleased with the way it works out."
Hood, 27, had three sacks in 16 games, including seven starts, a year ago with the Steelers while alternating between end and nose tackle. He was a first-round pick by them in 2009 coming off their Super Bowl season but was regarded as someone who, despite never missing a game, didn’t quite live up to his billing.
The 298-pound Hood said he was told by Wash that he’ll be used more as a tackle in the Jaguars’ four-man front and compete with Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller for playing time.
"I’ve been blessed with a second opportunity to come here and play in a different scheme, a good scheme that I believe in, that I feel is right for me," he said. "I feel like this city is right for my family. And I just feel good."
Marks went from having only three sacks during his four years with the Tennessee Titans to four last season with the Jaguars, who rewarded him with a new four-year contract in late December.
"I know those guys," Hood said of Marks and Miller, who were drafted the same year he was. "I can’t wait to get to know them even more."
Another ex-Steeler, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, also paid a visit to the Jaguars, who were noticeably thin at that position a year ago with suspensions to Justin Blackmon and injuries to Cecil Shorts III. Sanders could be high on their wish list now that former Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker chose to sign with the New York Jets.