Jaguars sign QB Henne to push starter Gabbert
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
Henne signed a two-year contract worth nearly $6.75 million with the Jaguars on Wednesday, giving the team a capable backup to Blaine Gabbert.
''All I know right now is I'm going to go in there and compete,'' Henne said Thursday. ''I know I have an opportunity to compete, and that's what I'm looking forward to.''
The Jaguars were looking to upgrade the No. 2 spot after Luke McCown failed to impress general manager Gene Smith in four games and two starts last season.
Nonetheless, new coach Mike Mularkey created a minor buzz Thursday when he spoke about Henne's role. Henne threw 31 touchdown passes and 37 interceptions in 36 games in Miami. He was decent in four games last season before needing season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder and missing the final 12 games.
''He's coming in as a backup, competing for a starting job,'' Mularkey said. ''Everybody comes in here to compete for a starting job. I hope that's the way it's always going to be. We don't want anybody here that's very comfortable and wants to be in a backup role, and never will.
''Chad knows his role and Blaine and I had a conversation this morning that we are all on the same page of why he's here. Like I said earlier, we're very happy that he's here. He's going to help Blaine in his development and he's going to help our football team.''
That might not be the strongest vote of confidence for Gabbert. Then again, the former Missouri star might need a little extra motivation.
Gabbert completed 50.8 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a rookie last season. It was well below expectations after the Jaguars selected Gabbert with the 10th overall pick.
The plan wasn't to have Gabbert start any games in 2011, especially since the NFL lockout wiped out most of the offseason, which is especially important for rookies. But with fellow newcomers Cam Newton (Carolina) and Andy Dalton (Cincinnati) playing well from Day 1, Gabbert's season probably looked worse than it really was.
However, Gabbert played without a No. 1 receiver, worked behind a shuffled and often inconsistent line, had countless passes dropped and had a lame-duck coaching staff.
Nonetheless, there were times he looked scared in the pocket, seemed to feel phantom pressure and was very inaccurate on some short throws.
Despite his shortcomings, the Jaguars stuck with Gabbert through a 5-11 season that included two wins against woeful Indianapolis and a victory over equally inept Tampa Bay.
Now, though, the Jaguars have an option.
''Obviously Blaine has been there for the past year and they are definitely going to give him a good chance, which is expectedly so,'' Henne said. ''I'm there to blend in, help him out and help the Jaguars win games.''
The Jaguars gave Gabbert and Henne some help.
Former Dallas receiver Laurent Robinson signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract Wednesday to be the team's No. 1 receiver. Some believe the Jaguars overpaid for Robinson, who played for Atlanta, St. Louis and San Diego - and was even cut by Dallas - before his breakout season with the Cowboys in 2011.
Robinson caught 54 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He played for Mularkey in Atlanta, worked with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan during the lockout and dazzled new owner Shahid Khan in college at Illinois State.
He wanted to stay in Dallas, where he was the No. 3 receiver, but said the Cowboys didn't have the salary cap space.
''They could only do so much,'' Robinson said. ''They didn't really have the cap space to make a significant run. It all worked out here in Jacksonville, so I'm just excited to be a Jaguar.''
Henne wasn't as eager to stay in Miami. Not that many would blame him. Even though the Jaguars would like to avoid a quarterback competition, everyone knows what will happen if Gabbert continues to struggle.
''There was some talks (with Miami), but I think they are on the Peyton Manning street right now, so they are going to wait a while,'' Henne said. ''In my position, there wasn't much time to wait. I kind of wanted a new start, a fresh start and find a team where I feel comfortable. I just want to be on a team that wants to win games.''