JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars continued to work their 2013 free-agent strategy Friday.
Stay out of the big-money fray. Get ready for the draft.
Prepare for the future, but do so by signing younger, affordable veterans to compete.
“We got better today,” Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said early Friday evening.
The Jaguars on Friday not only signed defensive tackle
“They’re all very passionate about football,” Caldwell said. “They’re all a scheme fit for what we’re doing and they’re intelligent, competitive players. These are players who are a good age bracket that have a lot to prove for themselves.
“They’re ultracompetitive and have a great opportunity to compete for roles on the team.”
All three players signed two-year deals, joining recently-signed linebacker
The Jaguars also on Friday re-signed cornerback
The trio signed Friday fit the Jaguars’ stated plan for 2013 free agency in that they weren’t high-profile, salary cap-space filling players. Rather, they’re players who can compete for starting and contributing positions in the first year of Bradley and Caldwell’s tenure.
Caldwell has said since his hiring in early January he plans to build through the draft, a reason the team stayed out of the high-priced free agent market this offseason. Bradley has said training camp and even the regular season will be about intense competition, with a chance of high roster turnover.
Ball, Forsett, Miller and Hayes will be involved in that competition, and have the potential to contribute – perhaps as starters and certainly as reserves.
Miller (6-2, 310), like Hayes, is 25 and will enter his fifth NFL season. A third-round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009, he started 34 games in four seasons, starting 16 games in 2010 and 16 this past season. He has three sacks in four seasons.
“I really like the new energy they have here,” Miller said. “I’m a young guy, still getting better. I’m still working, still hungry.”
Miller played two seasons with Jaguars defensive line coach Todd Wash when Wash was an assistant with the Buccaneers. He arrived in Tampa Bay the season after Bradley left to take the defensive coordinator position with the Seahawks.
“I’m looking forward to working with him again,” said Miller, adding that the chance to be with a young, building team was appealing. “I actually haven’t been in the same scheme two years in a row. I’ve had a different scheme every year, so to reunite with Wash is my third year with a coaching staff.
“Being in Tampa – all I heard was great things about Gus, so I was excited to meet him. I was looking forward to getting to known him and see what this organization was about.”
Miller called the last few days “a whirlwind.”
“I had no idea what I was coming into, but the coaches overwhelmed me with how excited they were and how much passion they have,” Miller said. “Everything hasn’t sunk in yet. Coach Gus won me over, and Todd Wash was already here, so this is great.”
Ball, who will enter his seventh NFL season, can play either cornerback or safety, and spent five seasons with Dallas after the Cowboys selected him in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He spent last season with the Houston Texans.
Ball said he will play corner for the Jaguars, and said he believes he fits the style of physical, aggressive corner Bradley covets for his defense.
“That’s my fit,” Ball said, adding that though he had heard about Bradley’s upbeat, high-energy style before meeting him Friday, meeting him was a different experience.
“He caught me off-guard,” Ball said, laughing. “But it was definitely a good thing. I sat in a meeting with him one on one. I was wired the whole time, just listening to him talk. He’s definitely infectious.”
Ball (6-2, 197), 27, has started 22 of 71 games played, and has 108 tackles, three interceptions and 17 passes defensed with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also is considered a quality special teams player with 38 tackles in that area.
He played 11 games with one start as a cornerback last season, and started 16 games at safety for Dallas in 2010.
Forsett said he also spoke with Dallas and Houston during free agency.
“It came down to opportunity, role on the team, and of course, the contract,” said Forsett, who likely will back up three-time Pro Bowl selection
He signed with Houston last offseason, played in 16 games there, and has started rushed for 1,661 yards and eight career touchdowns with 100 receptions for 768 yards and a touchdown. He has started seven games in his career, and also has experience returning punts and kickoffs.
“At this point in my career, I feel like I’m in my prime,” he said. “I’m getting wiser and getting smarter. It’s a perfect time for me to get an opportunity like I have here and be able to impact a team.”
Forsett was in Seattle in three of Bradley’s seasons there, 2009-2011, and new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch was the quarterbacks coach with Seattle in 2010. That was Head Coach Pete Carroll’s first season with the team, a year in which the Seahawks had 284 roster moves.
Bradley has said since his hiring that the approach this season in Jacksonville will be to create a similar atmosphere of discomfort and competition, and Forsett said while that approach isn’t easy on players, it produces benefits.
“You have to focus on yourself, putting your best foot forward and things will take care of themselves,” Forsett said. “They want to see competition. They want to see what you do when your back’s against the wall and you’re facing some adversity and everyone. You’ve just got to step up.
“I believe in Gus. I believe in competition. You see the fruits of it in Seattle.”