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'15 free agency: Alualu pleased to stay


JACKSONVILLE – Tyson Alualu wanted this from the start.

That it essentially happened without drama and two days before the start of the NFL's free-agency period … well, he considered those things a big bonus.

And a big relief.

Alualu, the Jaguars' sixth-year defensive end, re-signed with the team on Sunday, avoiding the free-agency period that will begin Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the start of the NFL's league year.

"I didn't know what to expect," Alualu said Sunday afternoon. "It was my first time going into free agency, so for us to get something done before it – I'm just grateful for this opportunity to be back with the Jags."

Alualu, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent Tuesday, finalized the terms of a two-year deal Sunday morning and signed early in the afternoon.

Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell in a statement called signing Alualu before the free-agency period began "a priority," and had said on multiple occasions he wanted Alualu back on the roster. Caldwell had approached Alualu after the season and told him as much.

Alualu also said he wanted to re-sign with the team that drafted him almost five years before.

"It went smoothly," Alualu said. "He (Caldwell) had been talking to my agent since the (NFL Scouting) Combine (in late February). It was good that Dave wanted me back, because I know I wanted to be back with the team. For it to work out the way it did, I'm just grateful.

"The coaches, including (defensive line) coach (Todd) Wash were telling me after the season they really wanted me to be here and really wanted me back. That gave me a lot of confidence that they still believed in me and wanted me back.

"That played a big factor in me staying here, and definitely made the process easier for me."

Alualu was originally drafted by General Manager Gene Smith, making Caldwell the second general for whom he has played. Gus Bradley is his fourth head coach, with Alualu also playing for interim Head Coach Mel Tucker in 2011, Jack Del Rio in 2010-2011 and Mike Mularkey in 2012.

Alualu, the No. 10 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2010 NFL Draft, started all 16 games in each of his first NFL four seasons and played tackle his first three seasons. When Bradley took over in 2013, Alualu moved to the five-technique end spot.

Alualu backed up Red Bryant last season, playing 471 snaps to 536 for Bryant.

"You definitely don't take that for granted," Alualu said. "When new coaches come in, you hear they're going to bring in their own guys and get rid of all the players who have been here before, so I was trying not to worry too much about what was going on and to control the things I could control.

"I think everything worked out pretty good. I'm happy with how things turned out."

The Jaguars' defensive front last season was perhaps the team's best, most-consistent unit, and was almost certainly the deepest. Alualu was critical to that depth, and Caldwell early Sunday lauded Alualu's ability to play multiple positions along a defensive line that thrives on players being versatile.

The front, which featured Bryant, Alualu, ends Chris Clemons, Andre Branch, Chris Smith and Ryan Davis and tackles Sen'Derrick Marks, Ziggy Hood, Roy Miller and Abry Jones, was critical to the defense increasing its sacks total from 31 in 2013 to 45 this past season.

"After what we went through as a team and as a unit, I knew something special was about to happen," Alualu said. "I just wanted to be a part of the team and a part of the culture, so my plan going into free agency was for the priority to be to come back here but to see how it played out."

Alualu had two sacks last season playing in mostly run situations. The five-technique end typically comes off the field in passing situations in favor of a Leo pass rusher.

Alualu's 80 consecutive games played is the sixth-longest streak in franchise history, and he was the only defensive player on the team to start 16 games each season from 2010-13. He has 314 tackles in five seasons with 13 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, 68 quarterback hits, six passes defensed and a fumble recovery. 

He had 30 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and five quarterback hits this past season.

Bradley earlier Sunday said Alualu had perhaps his best season this past season, and Alualu – who early in his career dealt with a knee injury sustained as a rookie and later with the aftereffects of micro-fracture knee surgery – said he believes he is still improving.

"I think that's what I'm most excited about," he said. "I really believe and feel that for me the best years are these years ahead. I feel better than I felt coming into the league, so just to be healthy – I feel like I've got more years ahead to be a productive player and to do what's expected of me."

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