JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars released two prominent veterans Thursday.
Neither move was entirely unexpected, and both releases clear roster spots and salary-cap space as the 2016 free-agency period approaches.
Chris Clemons and Zane Beadles, two linemen with a combined 56 starts for the Jaguars over the last two seasons, both were released on Thursday. The team announced the moves Thursday afternoon, six days before the start of the 2016 league year.
"This is a very challenging time of year in the NFL, and making moves like these are necessary but very difficult," Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement. "While we understand that this is a business, it does not make these decisions any easier. Zane and Chris have helped play a role in what we are building here in Jacksonville and we are extremely grateful for their work on and off the field over the past two seasons. We wish them the best of luck in the future."
Teams can begin signing free agents from other teams on Wednesday, March 9 at 4 p.m.
Clemons, who started eight of 16 games this past season and all 16 in 2014, signed with the Jaguars as a free agent in 2014. He signed that year March 13, having been released by the Seattle Seahawks.
Clemons, who turned 34 this past season, registered eight sacks in his first season for the Jaguars. That was second on the team, but he registered just three sacks this past season as the team struggled throughout the season to pressure the quarterback in passing situations.
Clemons finished two seasons with the Jaguars with 24 starts, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery in a 31-27 victory over the Buffalo Bills in London in 2015. He had 10 quarterback hurries and five tackles for loss in 2015 and 10 quarterback hurries with six tackles for loss in 2014.
The Jaguars, after finishing with 45 sacks in 2014, finished 20th in the category with 36 this past season. They were 31st in third-down defense this past season, and are expected to be active in free agency pursuing pass-rush help.
Beadles, who started every game for the Jaguars the past two seasons without missing a snap, signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos on March 11, 2014.
Jaguars allowed 51 sacks this past season, and struggled at times in the running game. They ranked 27th in rushing offense, and often struggled to get push on the interior.
The Jaguars are expected to address interior offensive line in free agency, and team officials have mentioned several options for next season. Guard Brandon Linder, who started 16 games as a rookie and the first three of last season before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury, could move to center. Guard A.J. Cann also has been mentioned as a possibility at center.
Cann and Linder are expected to start at two of the three interior line positions, with a free agent or rookie a possibility. Tyler Shatley and Luke Bowanko also have been mentioned as possibilities at the three positions.