The Jacksonville Jaguars have raved about guard Uche Nwaneri during minicamp, training camp and the preseason.
They really showed their feelings for him Wednesday.
Nwaneri signed a five-year extension reportedly worth $24 million, making him one of the long-term building blocks for Jacksonville’s offense.
The Jaguars moved Nwaneri to right guard this season in hopes of bolstering a running game that features Pro Bowl back Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for 1,391 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. The Jaguars believe he can have even more success running behind Nwaneri and tackle Eben Britton on the right side.
”This is a show-me league and you have to go out and perform,” Nwaneri said. ”Now that that’s behind me, I have to go out and perform and help the team get wins and help us get to the playoffs and make a run for the title.”
Nwaneri said his agent and the Jaguars worked on the extension for a couple weeks, and the final deal is ”something we’re all happy with.”
”It’s one of those things that you always want to get done,” he said. ”Coming into the league, you always hear statistics about players only make it two or three years on average and you always say to yourself, ‘I want to be a guy who gets into his second or third contract.’
”For me, that was definitely one of my goals, and I’m thankful they see me as a player who can be here a while.”
The Jaguars now have three of their five linemen – Nwaneri, Britton and left tackle Eugene Monroe – locked up for at least the next three years.
Monroe and Britton were first and second-round picks, respectively, last season. Nwaneri was a fifth-round pick in 2007. He’s started 29 games, all at guard.