The Jaguars have signed unrestricted free-agent offensive lineman Mike Compton and re-signed offensive lineman Sammy Williams, while unrestricted free-agent cornerbacks Lewis Sanders and Dewayne Washington made visits to Alltel Stadium today.
Compton visited the Jaguars last Friday. He will be in his 12th NFL season in 2004, after having spent the last three seasons with the New England Patriots. Compton was a starting guard for the Patriots until suffering a foot injury that landed him on the injured reserve list on Sept. 22 of last year.
Williams was a reserve offensive lineman for the Jaguars last season. A six-year veteran, Williams gives the Jaguars depth at tackle.
Sanders was drafted out of Maryland in the fourth round of the 2000 draft by the Cleveland Browns. His career with the Browns was dogged by injuries.
Washington had been a fixture in the starting lineup for Pittsburgh since 1998, and had played well against the Jaguars. But Washington lost his starting job midway through last season and was released by the Steelers before the start of this free agency period.
The addition of Compton is in line with the Jaguars' first two free-agent signings. The team had previously signed tight end Todd Yoder and linebacker Tommy Hendricks. Both are young players who established their careers in reserve roles, while Compton is a veteran player who appears destined to finish his career as a reserve. The common denominator among those three players is they are regarded as affordable, second-tier free agents.
"We obviously think it's a better way to operate," Jaguars salary cap boss Paul Vance said in defending the Jaguars' decision to avoid the risk associated with signing the "upper class" of the free-agent crop. "We want to keep our cap situation so we have the flexibility to make moves that are best for the team in terms of roster-building. When I say roster-building, I'm saying for some time-horizon longer than a year. If you don't have flexibility in your cap, you can't look at a lot of guys," Vance added.
The Jaguars have entertained six free agents to date. They had signed restricted free-agent kicker Shayne Graham to a contract last Thursday, but lost Graham to Cincinnati when the Bengals matched the Jaguars' offer a day later.
"It doesn't mean you won't go after a first-tier free agent if you think he can make a difference for a period of multiple years," Vance said of the Jaguars' philosophy.
Of course, first-tier free agents eat up cap room more quickly than the next wave of players do, thus limiting the total number of free agents a team can sign. The Jaguars' philosophy appears to favor numbers.