JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jason Babin took a significant pay cut to stay in Jacksonville. But even at a reduced rate, the Jaguars couldn’t envision him making the roster this fall.
So the team released the veteran defensive end Thursday, parting ways with the 34-year-old pass-rusher for the second time in three months.
”We feel that he still has some good games in him and some really good play in him,” coach Gus Bradley said. ”We were just juggling to try to find a way to get it done within our system. We felt like it was best to give him the opportunity to get out there and hook on with another team. I don’t know if there ever is a right time or how to do it. We try to do the best we can, but when we’re dealing with a man like Jason Babin, that is tough on both sides.”
After signing former Seattle standout Chris Clemons in free agency and with the development of young pass-rushers Andre Branch, Ryan Davis and rookie Chris Smith, there was little room for the aging Babin on a rebuilding roster.
”That’s just how the NFL works,” said defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who also played with Babin in Tennessee. ”You get used to a guy, you get comfortable, and you know that guy can still play. We know that Babs can still play. We saw him here in minicamp. But it also shows that we’ve got guys like Chris and Branch that’s coming along and can also do that job. It’s a younger league and that’s what a lot of teams look for.”
Babin led the team with 7 1/2 sacks last season.
He voided the final two years of his contract in March, hitting the free-agent market before the Jaguars cut him. He had been due to make $6 million in 2014. Jacksonville re-signed him for considerably less.
But after watching the younger defensive ends during organized team activities and a three-day minicamp that ended Thursday – and crunching the roster numbers – the Jaguars felt it was best to part ways with Babin now.
”It was shocking,” said Davis, a second-year pro. ”Jason was a key piece of this team, definitely helped this team in leadership. We were such a young team and he helped in the development of myself. I haven’t had a chance to talk with him yet, but obviously Jason’s career speaks for itself. High production guy, and I’m pretty sure he’ll land in a great predicament for himself and his family, so I wish him the best.”
The Jaguars claimed Babin off waivers from Philadelphia in November 2012, bringing in the two-time Pro Bowler in hopes of beefing up one of the league’s worst pass rushes. Babin finished with seven sacks in 2012, a year after totaling 18 in his first year with the Eagles. He signed a five-year, $28 million deal with Philly after going to his first Pro Bowl with Tennessee following the 2010 season.
Although Babin showed burst at times in Jacksonville, he wasn’t the consistent sack threat he once was. He also dealt with knee and groin injuries last year.
”At the end of the day, it’s a business,” Branch said. ”This is the NFL. We’re wishing him nothing but the best and support him in everything he does, but we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got a long season ahead of us and we’ve got training camp coming, so we’ve just got to keep pushing.
”I’ve seen guys come and go. It’s still the NFL. You never can be surprised with anything. It’s a business, but we’ve got to keep going.”
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