PHOENIX, Ariz. – Shad Khan's stance remains the same.
Is he excited about the Jaguars' prospects for 2017? Does he like the team's free-agency moves?
Yes and yes – and the Jaguars' owner said he is as optimistic about the coming season as he has been for past seasons in his tenure.
He also said that optimism remains cautious in nature.
Khan said before the opening of the NFL's league year and the Jaguars' ensuing foray into free agency that he hoped this year's signings would bring more on-field success than past free-agency efforts. He said this week that remained his stance now that the class has become reality.
"I've had the same feeling I've had the last few years: 'Boy, we did great and a whole bunch of checks got written,''' Khan said Monday with a laugh at the 2017 NFL Annual Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. "I'm excited that a lot of the players we [signed] other teams wanted … we were able to attract. But I think the big difference here is hopefully: better results on the field."
The Jaguars have signed nine unrestricted free agents since March 9, including cornerback A.J. Bouye (Houston), defensive end Calais Campbell (Arizona) and safety Barry Church (Dallas). The team also acquired left tackle Branden Albert in a trade with Miami on March 9.
Albert and Campbell both have made two Pro Bowls and Bouye and Campbell were both considered by many among the Top 10 players available in 2017 free agency.
Also on Monday:
*Khan said he believes there is a higher football IQ within the Jaguars after the January hiring of Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars' head coach from 1994-2002 and a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach with the New York Giants from 2004-2015. "I really feel it," Khan said, adding that he remains impressed with the working relationship between Coughlin, Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell. "I just felt they absolutely can mesh together," Khan said. "You can't take three people at random, throw them together and say, 'OK, make this thing work.' They have the experience, the age, the culture, the mindset and the personalities to really make this thing work. … They all bring a little subset of knowledge." …
*The Jaguars in addition to Church, Campbell and Bouye also in recent weeks have signed linebacker Audie Cole (Minnesota), defensive tackle Stefan Charles (Buffalo), guard Earl Watford (Arizona), linebacker Josh McNary (Indianapolis), tight end Mychal Rivera (Oakland) and defensive end Malliciah Goodman (Atlanta). "We've got a number of guys who can help us on special teams and in a lot of different ways," Coughlin said. "I'm very much excited about that, but we still have work to do. We still have information forthcoming. We have the draft. We have college free agency, then the June 1 cut would be something that may or may not present some opportunities." Coughlin emphasized the group's ability to play special teams. "We tried to find people who had experience, who could run and who could help us in lots of ways," Coughlin said. "Professional football is about everybody helping to take care of all three phases in order that we can win." …
*Caldwell said scouts and personnel people will begin meeting with coaches on Monday to begin the final stages of 2017 NFL Draft preparation, adding that it's too early to get a good feel for the value of the No. 4 overall selection. He said he would be open to trading the selection. "Everybody wants to know at this point in time, but as team start to set their boards and as players start to emerge and climb – and as teams start to get nervous about who's going to be there when they pick – that's when you can find opportunity," Caldwell said. The 2017 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29.
*Caldwell said he believes the Jaguars filled about four or five needs during free agency, and that the team also improved its depth with the signings in the last month. "On paper, it's good, but they have to come together as a team," he said. …
*Caldwell said he expects third-year veteran Dante Fowler Jr. to be used as a pass-rushing defensive end next season, adding that he and second-year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue both also have the skillset to move around the defense and play in a two-point stance. "We'll see what our coaches have in store come preseason," Caldwell said. "They're both versatile players and we think they can play linebacker, but we need them to rush the passer." …