Jaguars, QB Chad Henne come to terms on two-year deal
Chad Henne, who had been one of the two most prominent unrestricted free agents on the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into next week’s signing period, has decided to stay put.
The Jaguars and Henne agreed Friday on a two-year contract to keep their starting quarterback for 13 games in 2013, including their last 11 in a row, in Jacksonville.
Henne, 28, threw for 3,241 yards and 13 touchdowns in his second season with the Jaguars and his first under offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. A source told FoxSports1 that Henne, the sixth highest-paid member of the Jaguars a year ago at $4.15 million, will make $8 million plus incentives with $4.5 million of that being guaranteed.
”We did want to talk to a couple of other teams,” Henne said. ”But we figured if we got what we wanted, and Jacksonville was my No. 1 choice, that we would go ahead and sign with Jacksonville and not even talk to other teams. It was my No. 1 choice, and I wanted to be there. So it all worked out for both sides.”
The announcement came less than 24 hours after the Jaguars had locked up three of their other free agents — offensive tackles Cameron Bradfield and Sam Young and tight end Clay Harbor. With Henne returning, the only burning question going into Tuesday is what will happen with Maurice Jones-Drew, the franchise’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 68.
Henne signed with the Jaguars in March 2012 after spending four seasons with the Miami Dolphins, including one where he passed for a career-high 3,301 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2010. Fisch was his third offensive coordinator in as many years and part of the staff hired by coach Gus Bradley, who guided the Jaguars to a 4-12 finish after starting out with an 0-8 record.
”I don’t have to go in learning a whole brand new system, which I had done the last three years,” Henne said. ”So that was definitely important. And how Jedd and I have grown throughout the season … We definitely did get better, and we kind of got an understanding of what we like and what I like.”
Henne completed 60.6 percent of his passes but threw 14 interceptions and was sacked 38 times. His passing efficiency rating of 76.5 ranked him only 31st out of 37 eligible quarterbacks, although he finished ahead of two Super Bowl winners in Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and Eli Manning of the New York Giants.
He became the full-time starter after Blaine Gabbert, who opened the season as the No. 1 quarterback, injured his hamstring in Week 5 at St. Louis. That was the same game in which offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, the Jaguars’ top draft pick, suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
Although the offense was missing several key players for a considerable length of time, particularly Joeckel and wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Henne went 4-9 as a starter and guided the Jaguars on a game-winning drive at Cleveland that ended with his scoring pass to Cecil Shorts III.
”I had a good feeling of where this organization is going,” he said. ”And it’s very positive, it’s a bright future. Obviously we need some spots to fill in our lineup. But that’s up to (general manager) Dave (Caldwell) and Gus, and I have a full, 100 percent belief that they’ll get that done. The organization is going in the right direction.”
Even if the Jaguars don’t use the third overall pick in the NFL draft in May on Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M or Blake Bortles of UCF, many experts project they will select a quarterback no later than in the second round. The decision to keep Henne casts further doubts about the future of Gabbert, a first-round pick by the Jaguars in 2011 whose time has been marked by injuries and inefficiency.
The only other quarterbacks on their roster are Matt Scott and Ricky Stanzi, neither of whom took a snap last season.