The Jacksonville Jaguars worked to sign Cleveland Browns center to an offer sheet, but the Browns matched the offer within hours of it being officially signed April 11.
At the start of free agency, the Browns elected to place a transition tag ($10.039 million) on Mack rather than a franchise tag ($11.654 million). While the latter tag was $1.615 million more, there is usually a limited open market because of the two first-round draft picks it would cost a team if an offer sheet wasn't matched.
There is no compensation associated with the transition tag, but the original team still has the ability to match an offer.
The Jaguars' offer was for $42 million over five years with $26 million in the first three years guaranteed.
--The Jacksonville Jaguars remain one of the wild cards near the top of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Owners of the No. 3 overall pick May 8, the Jaguars can go any number of directions, depending largely on what the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams do ahead of them. What head coach Gus Bradley is confident of, however, is his team will land a dynamic prospect in what he considers a deep draft at several positions of need.
Speaking at the NFL league meetings Tuesday, Bradley admitted the quarterback class is intriguing. But the Jaguars also re-signed veteran Chad Henne, so Jacksonville isn't likely to force the issue with its first pick unless a quarterback the team covets is available.
"You could have 4-5 (quarterbacks) going in the first round or it could be like last year when guys dropped," said Bradley. "Teams are still trying to get a feel for how things will fall into place. But there is a lot of depth and there are a lot of guys who can play really good football for teams around the NFL."
The Jaguars' personnel department is busy pouring over game film, combine interviews and pro day tape in an effort to compile as complete a picture as possible on each prospect.
The Jaguars met with Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater last week, and Bradley anticipates having an opportunity to meet again with several players under consideration with that third pick.
Bortles is currently projected to go to the Texans with the top pick by NFLDraftScout.com analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler. If he should get past Houston, Bortles is clearly a prospect of interest for the Jaguars.
"You watch the tape and he intrigues you, and then you see that he got better during the offseason and that intrigues you," said Bradley. "You feel he is a guy that is moving up the scale. If he comes into our system or if he goes to Houston or Minnesota, each one of those teams will ask him to do different things, and what he's put on tape and what he did on his pro day showed he can take coaching and can get better. That's good. That's a great trait to have."
Rang and Brugler currently project the Jaguars to select South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney at No. 3, and Bradley certainly sounds comfortable starting Henne for another season while grooming a young quarterback that may come with one of the team's other 10 draft picks. Rang and Brugler both project the Jaguars to select Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in their debut two-round mock drafts this week.
Added Bradley, "In Seattle, I know Matt Flynn was the quarterback and he was the guy and Russell Wilson was drafted, came in and there weren't any expectations on him coming in to be the starter. That allowed him to put all of his energy into competing and you saw him progress very nicely. That's one example of how it can work. If it takes a year, then it takes a year. That's why we signed Chad Henne."
The Jaguars were aggressive in free agency, but still have several areas of need on both sides of the ball, which can be a blessing in the draft rather than pressing to fill one glaring weakness.
No one's game tape will be more scrutinized than Clowney's. Considered the likely top pick entering last season, Clowney struggled to make impact plays as he dealt with constant double teams, nagging injuries and a reputation for taking plays off.
"We'll get a chance to visit him in the next couple weeks, but I see enough plays where he's playing hard," said Bradley. "I do see him getting a great rush and making great plays and it's our job as a coaching staff to get that consistently.
"There have been some players who came out of the draft and you questioned their effort at times and when they made the next step to the NFL, then it wasn't a question. You have to take into account the number of splash plays he made and the effort plays he does have on tape; that's why he's such a high prospect."
Wide receiver is another position the Jaguars are expected to address through the draft. They have 12 on the roster, but only recently-signed Tandon Doss has more than three years of NFL experience. There is precious proven experience beyond Cecil Shorts III, and the Jaguars have a big unknown in the form of suspended Justin Blackmon.
"I wish I could have a more extended conversation with him," Bradley said of Blackmon. "My feelings toward him haven't changed - I still care about him. We've reached out to him and been able to text back and forth. To sit down and visit with him, that part I miss."
Toby Gerhart was signed during free agency and is expected to be the primary ball-carrier, but Bradley also sounds like a coach who can't have too many dependable backs to spread the ball to.
"He has the ability to play all three downs. How many carries he gets - we would like to run the ball over 40 percent of the time," Bradley said of Gerhart. "There might be 28-30 carries in a game, and there aren't many running backs that carry more than 20 times a game. If he's a guy that is carrying it 15-16 times and with third-down reps, 18 times. That's feasible. A strong possibility."
--The Jacksonville Jaguars plan to be "aggressively modest" in the free agency market that opened up Tuesday afternoon.
What exactly does that mean? Only general manager Dave Caldwell can answer that and he's not tipping his hand.
But Caldwell gave an early indication of what it means by signing Denver offensive guard Zane Beadles within the first hour of free agency. It was an important addition for Jacksonville and an offensive line that was not very good last year. Beadles, 27, was a second-round selection by Denver in the 2010 NFL Draft and has proven to be one of the league's top players at his position. He started 62 of a possible 64 games in his four NFL seasons thus far. He started the first six games of his career at right tackle but was moved to left guard where he's played ever since.
Caldwell said the Jaguars targeted Beadles early and went after him as quickly as possible.
"This is a guy with some flexibility but we'll put him at left guard next to [left tackle] Luke [Joeckel," Caldwell said. "He's very intelligent, very competitive, very smart. He's had a heckuva career to date. He played in the Pro Bowl in 2012 so he's got a proven track record and he's only 27 years old."
Caldwell is the one who issued the phrase of "aggressively modest" last month. It was an indication the Jaguars would make a fast entry, maybe two, into free agency, and then sit back and watch what unfolds with the higher-priced free agents. With nearly $60 million of cap money to lure some of the top players to northeast Florida, along with pointing out no state income tax, glorious weather 10-11 months a year and a pair of video scoreboards that will don both end zones and will be the largest of its kind in any NFL stadium, the Jaguars are in position to make several moves.
But that's not how Caldwell wants to build this franchise, one that for the first half of the 2013 season, was being referred to as one of the NFL's worst ever. The Jaguars played better in the second half, winning four of their final eight games to give a fan base hope that this administration has a plan that will a lot more effective than the previous regime.
Caldwell is a stout believer in building from the ground up, as evidenced by the Jaguars owning 10 picks in the upcoming college draft. And if the right suitor can be found, Caldwell could be willing to forego the No. 3 pick in the draft for another two, three, four picks.
But it can't all be accomplished with the draft and that's why Caldwell is likely to go after one or two quality offensive linemen as quickly as possible. With veteran center Brad Meester retiring, six-year starter at right guard Uche Nwaneri released last week and nobody on the current roster ready to stake a claim to the left guard spot, the Jaguars had three openings they want to fill. With Joeckel only playing five games last season due to an ankle fracture, including less than one-half of one game at left tackle, line help was a necessity in order to prevent quarterback Chad Henne from scrambling and hurrying throws even more than what he did a year ago.
The Jaguars re-signed Henne with the idea that if they enhance the protection around him, he'll be better. It all starts with the three interior spots on the line. Signing Beadles was the first step in that direction.
Help is also needed among the receivers. The team's biggest threat, Justin Blackman, remains a threat to play himself right out of the league. Blackman will ask to be reinstated from the 8-game suspension that he received a year ago for his second violation of the league's substance abuse policy. But even if he's granted his request, do the Jaguars want to go into the season knowing that if Blackman falters again, he's out for one full season? Signing a veteran receiver would be good insurance for the club if the Blackman scenario fizzles.
The Jaguars need to add another quarterback to the roster after trading backup Blaine Gabbert to San Francisco on Tuesday. But that isn't expected to come in free agency, rather in the early to middle rounds of the draft.
--The NFL announced each team's preseason schedule without precise dates or times, except for national TV games and the final preseason week in which all games will be on Thurs. Aug. 28. Week 1 games are Aug. 7-10, Week 2 Aug. 14-18 and Week 3 Aug. 21-24.
The Jaguars will be at home against Tampa Bay in Week 1 and Atlanta in Week 4, while going on the road to play Chicago in Week 2 and Detroit in Week 3. The game against the Bears will be at 8 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, Aug. 14 on ESPN.
--Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon was in a single-car accident Saturday (March 15) morning, but was not injured.
The troubled Blackmon is on indefinite suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. However, police said alcohol was not a factor in the accident, according to ESPN.
The crash occurred just before 4 a.m. on Interstate 295, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Blackmon lost control of his SUV after a rear tire blew and the vehicle crashed into the tree line.
Blackmon was arrested in Texas in 2010 on a misdemeanor DUI charge that was eventually reduced to underage alcohol possession after he was pulled over for speeding.
In 2012, after the Jaguars selected Blackmon No. 5 overall in the draft out of Oklahoma State, he was arrested during a traffic stop in Stillwater, Okla. A breath test indicated his blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit. He was placed in the league's substance-abuse program.
Blackmon was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season after his second violation of policy.
Blackmon's latest suspension occured last November because of his third violation. He can apply for reinstatement before the start of this season.
--The trading of Blaine Gabbert to San Francisco on Tuesday ended a less than successful stay in Jacksonville for the former first-round draft pick out of Missouri. When the Jaguars drafted Gabbert with the 10th overall pick of the 2011 draft, it appeared that the team had landed its franchise quarterback for the next decade. It was anything but that.
Gabbert was thrust into the starting lineup in the third game of the season that year. It was obvious he wasn't ready for such a move. He finished with 2,214 passing yards, but completed just a shade over 50 percent of his passes. The TDs and interceptions were nearly identical (12-11) and the 65.4 rating was well below standards acceptable for starting QBs.
There was some improvement in 2012 but not enough to appease a restless fan base by that time. Gabbert started the first 10 games, then was placed on injured reserve with a right forearm injury.
He was still considered the starter going into the 2013 season. He started the first game but passed for just 121 yards and had a 39.8 rating and was sacked six times. He was inactive the next two weeks with a thumb injury. He would start two more times but did not reach the 60.0 rating mark either time. He was inactive two more weeks and then dressed but did not play in the final nine games last year.
The trade to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick this year and a conditional pick next year is good for both Gabbert and the Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said. Caldwell didn't want to talk about Gabbert's history with the Jaguars but feels that he can still have a successful NFL career.
"I don't want to go back into the past and the history. When situations like this don't work out, I don't think it's any one person's fault," he said. "This is a team sport, this is a team effort. There are a lot of people involved in a lot of different things.
"Football is a tough sport; it's a highly competitive game. Blaine is not even 25 years old. I told him when I talked to him today that I still believe that he's going to have a successful career ahead of him."
Caldwell expounded, saying, "I had a nice talk with him. He's been great for us. In my time here, he has been a great teammate. His teammates like him. Our coaches liked him. I liked him. I have nothing but respect for Blaine and how he went about his business and how he worked and how he competed.
"I know we're sending him to a good situation. That's what I told him at the end of (last season): 'If something does come about, I'm going to try to send you to the best situation possible.' Something did come about and it's the best situation possible for him."
--Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has made it clear he's a believer in building a franchise through the draft. It hasn't been a successful formula for Jacksonville in recent years.
Caldwell did a solid job with the 2013 draft as all eight picks are still with the club. But the overall that took place when Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley came in has been overwhelming. Only four players who were drafted by the Jaguars prior to 2011 are still on the roster today. Those four are kicker Josh Scobee (2004), tight end Marcedes Lewis and running back Maurice Jones-Drew (2006) and defensive tackle/end Tyson Alualu. That dropped to three after Jones-Drew signed with Oakland. Three players drafted in 2011 and four from the 2012 draft (including suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon who's future status with the club is in question.
But having accumulated 11 picks for this year's draft, Jacksonville will continue to be one of the youngest teams in the NFL.
"Obviously we'd like as many draft picks as we can [get]," Caldwell said. "This is a good draft and we feel like it's a deep draft at different positions, so if we have 11, I think we can find 11 spots and if not, we can always use the flexibility to trade up. If you want to trade up to get a player, it gives you some flexibility, or if you want to trade back and maybe pick up some future picks for 2015."
--It didn't take Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley long to coerce general manager Dave Caldwell into signing Seattle defensive end Red Bryant to a four-year contract once he was released by the Seahawks.
Bradley is well aware of what a player like Bryant can mean to a team's defensive line. He spent four seasons (2009-12) as Seattle's defensive coordinator and watched Bryant develop into one of the team's top defensive players.
Bryant was with the Seahawks for six seasons. He started his career as a defensive tackle but moved to an end spot in 2010 where he played four years under Bradley's tutelage. He's been a solid contributor in recent years, missing just one game in the past three seasons when he recorded 87 tackles, 21/2 sacks and two interceptions.
Bryant was released by Seattle the end of February which meant the Jaguars didn't have to wait until free agency began on Tuesday to sign him. He'll make approximately $4.5 million in 2014 with the Jaguars. He would have received a $3 million bonus if he had been on the Seahawks' roster on March 14.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I will bring my style of football, being physical and attacking the line of scrimmage and making it difficult for opposing running backs to have lanes. Whatever is needed of me to help this team be successful, that's what I plan on doing." - Newly signed defensive end Red Bryant when asked what he can bring to the Jaguars defense.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--The Jaguars signed free agent and former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Tandon Doss. Doss became a free agent when the Ravens did not tender him as a restricted free agent.
"The coaching staff got me," Doss said. "It seems like a great group of guys to be around. They push for excellence and will allow me to compete for a spot."
The 24-year-old Doss, originally a fourth-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft from Indiana, had 26 receptions for 428 yards and a touchdown in three NFL seasons with the Ravens. He caught a career-high 19 passes for 305 yards last season.
Doss (6-foot-2, 207 pounds), also has returned 27 punts in the NFL for a 15.3-yard average. He had an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Houston Texans in Week 3 last season.
--Former Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson agreed to terms with the Jaguars.
Watson, 26, a seventh-round selection by the Buccaneers in the 2010 NFL Draft, has spent four seasons in Tampa Bay. He has played in 60 of 64 games for the Bucs, starting six games. He has three sacks and four passes defensed.
The Jaguars on Tuesday night agreed to terms with former Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart hours after it was announced that former Denver Broncos offensive guard Zane Beadles agreed to sign with the team.
Gerhart's deal was for three years and $10.5 million contract. Beadles agreed to terms on a five-year, $30 million deal with $13 million guaranteed, ESPN.com reported.
The Jaguars then continued their pursuit of defense by re-signing end Jason Babin and signing lineman Ziggy Hood (Steelers) and end or Leo player Chris Clemons, who had been released by Seattle.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: When six-year starter Uche Nwaneri was released a couple weeks ago, the need for interior offensive linemen took on added significance. Both guard spots and center have been an offensive liability in recent years and the Jaguars are now in need of finding replacements for all three. Acquiring Zane Beadles in the first hour of free agency was huge.
--PASS RUSHER/DEFENSIVE END: Signing Red Bryant took care of one of the needs at end, but a quality pass-rusher to play the "Leo" in Gus Bradley's defensive scheme is sorely needed. Jason Babin's 7.5 sacks was a team-best last year and he wasd re-signed. In addition, Chris Clemons, who played for Bradley in Seattle, was signed..
QUARTERBACK: Signing Henne to a two-year agreement took the pressure off of forcing the Jaguars to take a QB with the third overall pick. Henne can lead the team until a drafted QB develops, whether that takes three games, half a season or the entire 2014 season. A quarterback will definitely be brought in now that the club traded backup Blaine Gabbert to San Francisco.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--DT Kyle Love (not tendered as RFA) is listed as a starter even though he played in just one game a year ago. He battled a shoulder injury that never did improve but has since had surgery and should be at full strength by the time OTAs begin. The Jaguars will do whatever they can to sign him to a new deal.
--TE Allen Reisner (not tendered as RFA) started three games and played in two more before he was placed on injured reserve in early October. He came off IR in mid-December but didn't see any action. He may not fit into the Jaguars plans for the future and may not be re-signed.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--DT Brandon Deaderick has only started 15 games in his four-year NFL career but he's played in 47 games and provides good depth to the D-line. He played in 13 games for the Jaguars last year and the team will try to re-sign him.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--CB Will Blackmon: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--T Cameron Bradfield: Potential RFA; $3M/2 yrs, $1.225M guaranteed.
--DE Jason Babin: UFA; terms unknown.
--TE Clay Harbor: Potential UFA; $3M/2 yrs, $1.35M SB.
--QB Chad Henne: Potential UFA; $8M/2 yrs, $4.5M guaranteed.
--DT Sen'Derrick Marks: Potential UFA; $18M/4 yrs, $800,000 SB/$4.8M guaranteed.
--T Austin Pasztor: ERFA; terms unknown.
--T Sam Young: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Zane Beadles: UFA Broncos; $30M/5 yrs, $12.5M guaranteed.
--DE Red Bryant: FA Seahawks; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Chris Clemons: FA Seahawks; terms unknown.
--WR Tandon Doss: Not tendered as RFA by Ravens; terms unknown.
--FB Bradie Ewing (waivers Falcons).
--RB Toby Gerhart: UFA Vikings; $10.5M/3 yrs, $4.5M guaranteed.
--DE Ziggy Hood: UFA Steelers; terms unknown.
--S Sherrod Martin: FA; $780,000/1 yr.
--C/G Eric Olsen: Not tendered as ERFA by Steelers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Dekoda Watson: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--RB Justin Forsett (released).
--QB Blaine Gabbert (traded 49ers).
--RB Maurice Jones-Drew: UFA Raiders; $7.5M/3 yrs, $1.2M guaranteed RB.
--C Brad Meester (retired).
--G Uche Nwaneri (released).
--WR Taylor Price: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.
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