Former Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin is returning to the Sunshine State, and he could be bringing his twin brother with him.
Griffin and the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed Tuesday on a three-year contract worth up to $44.5 million that includes $29 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with negotiations. It’s the most significant move so far in new coach Urban Meyer’s rebuilding project.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because neither side can make free agent agreements official until the new league year begins Wednesday.
Griffin’s agent, Buddy Baker, tweeted “Duval,” a nod to the city’s rallying cry and an apparent public confirmation of his client’s move east.
Griffin will be an immediate starter opposite CJ Henderson, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, and could help the Jaguars have one of the league’s top coverage tandems. Griffin is part of a defensive overhaul for Jacksonville, which ranked last in nearly every defensive category in 2020 and allowed a franchise-record 30.75 points a game.
Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke used free agency to make several value-based moves to revamp the woeful unit, adding safety Rayshawn Jenkins (four years, $35 million), defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (three years, $24.4 million), defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (two years, $6 million), defensive end Jihad Ward, and safety Johnathan Ford (two years, $4.2 million).
They also re-signed defensive end Dawuane Smoot (two years, $14 million) and cornerback Sidney Jones, and traded with New Orleans to get defensive lineman Malcom Brown. Brown will be reunited with former Texas coach and current Jaguars assistant head coach Charlie Strong.
Griffin, Jenkins, Robertson-Harris and Brown should be surefire defensive starters. The others should at least provide added depth for a 1-15 team that proved to have little last season. For the 33-year-old Alualu, it’s a return to the place where he spent the first seven years of his NFL career and reunites him with his former college D-line coach, Tosh Lupoi. Jacksonville drafted Alualu with the 10th overall pick in 2010.
Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquem, could join the rebuilding party in Jacksonville. The Seahawks aren’t expected to place a restricted free agent tender on the one-handed linebacker. If they don’t, he would become a free agent Wednesday and able to sign anywhere. The brothers grew up in St. Petersburg, about four hours away, and played at UCF.
The Jags did less to address their offense - Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the main addition in the draft - but still made some key additions. They agreed to terms with former Detroit receiver Marvin Jones (two years, $14.5 million) and former Carolina tight end Chris Manhertz (two years, $7.25 million). They added receiver Phillip Dorsett, running back Carlos Hyde (two years, $6 million) and receiver/return man Jamal Agnew (three years, $14.25 million).
Jacksonville opened free agency with more salary cap space (about $73 million) than any other NFL team. Meyer and Baalke avoided spending huge to land some of the top free agents such as defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, pass rushers Bud Dupree and Carl Lawson, or tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
Instead, they chose to go with a numbers game. They mostly brought in guys they knew, players who would be cultural and scheme fits.
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