The Jacksonville Jaguars, with more than $65 million in salary-cap space at their disposal, made a splash Tuesday at the start of NFL free agency by signing former Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas.
The Jaguars also signed Green Bay Packers cornerback Davon House and are expected to add Indianapolis Colts safety Sergio Brown, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick, Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Jermey Parnell and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dan Skuta.
S Sergio Brown expected to agree to a deal with the Jaguars today, sources say. #2ClapsAndARicFlair
Thomas, 26, is coming off consecutive seasons seasons with 12 touchdown receptions. All of those from last season came in the Broncos’ first nine games before he suffered an injury to his left ankle which caused him to become a non-factor during the final seven weeks and in their playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
A report said the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders were also interested in Thomas, a fourth-round draft pick by the Broncos in 2011 despite playing just one year of college football at Portland State after finishing out his eligibility on the school’s basketball team.
The Jaguars had a total of only 15 touchdown receptions last season on their way to finishing with a 3-13 record, with rookie Blake Bortles starting at quarterback for the final 13 games. Tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor combined for three of those scores. The Jaguars are expected to keep the 30-year-old Lewis despite his $8.2 million cap number and the considerable amount of time he has missed the past two years with calf and ankle injuries.
After using their franchise tag on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos didn’t have the financial resources required to keep Julius Thomas, who can line up out wide or in the slot.
House, 25, became more of a subject of interest for the Jaguars after ex-Seahawk Byron Maxwell announced his plans to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. House is a four-year veteran coming to a team which has drafted cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz, Demetrius McCray and Aaron Colvin the past two years.
"When I’m in Green Bay, I’m just another guy," House told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. "They’ve won their Super Bowls, and we always were really good there. But I was just another guy there. With Jacksonville, when we start winning, I think the city is going to turn around and guys from our free-agent class are going to get credit for how we turned things around."
The Jaguars offered House a four-year, $25 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. House also received offers from the Seahawks, Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.
Odrick’s deal is expected to be worth $7 million per season. The 27-year-old is coming off the best season of his career but was deemed expendable when the Dolphins lavished a six-year, $114 contract on Ndamukong Suh.
Odrick started his career as a 3-4 defensive end before switching to a 4-3 defensive tackle, which is where he is expected to play in the Jaguars’ scheme. With Sen’Derrick Marks not expected to be available by the start of training camp and perhaps the regular season because of a torn ACL he suffered in the final game at Houston, Odrick could become an immediate starter.
Parnell, 28, started five games at right tackle for the Cowboys last season following an injury to Doug Free but has never been a full-time player. Austin Pasztor was the right tackle for most of 2014 on a line which allowed a league-high 71 sacks, with Sam Young taking over after Pasztor ruptured his left hamstring. Parnell will receive a reported $32 million ($13 million guaranteed) the next five years.
The Jaguars also announced Tuesday that they have re-signed Pasztor, who was an exclusive rights free agent.
Skuta, who turns 29 next month, had five sacks in his second season with the 49ers after spending his first four years with the Cincinnati Bengals. His contract is said to be worth $20.5 million, with $8 million of guarantees, over five years.