The Jaguars went into free agency with a distinct need at safety. Then they spent $13 million on a cornerback. All right, what gives?
"I think they killed two birds with one stone, so to speak," Drayton Florence said about the deal that brought him from San Diego to Jacksonville.
The "two birds" to which Florence is referring is cornerback and safety. Clearly, Florence is moving Brian Williams from corner to strong safety and inserting himself, of course, at Williams' cornerback position. Time will tell.
"By me coming here and having (cornerback) Rashean (Mathis) in place, it's going to let (free safety Reggie Nelson) make a lot of plays. Everybody is going to bring competition to the table and it's going to make everybody better," Florence said.
Florence signed a six-year deal with the Jaguars this past weekend and the immediate question that came to everyone's mind was: Will the Jaguars make room for Florence at cornerback by moving Williams to the void at strong safety? Williams has been a starter at cornerback and at safety in his career.
Coach Jack Del Rio has yet to answer that question but he will surely face it the next time he's with the media. This much we already know: Florence didn't sign with the Jaguars to be a part-time player.
"You want to go somewhere you have a chance to win. Jacksonville has the ability to make the playoffs. I'm coming back close to Ocala, where I grew up. It's win-win for me all the way around," Florence, 6-0, 195, said.
He was a 16-game starter in 2006 when the Chargers had the best record in the league, but Florence lost his starting job to Antonio Cromartie the week after the Chargers lost in Jacksonville on Nov. 18. Florence became the Chargers' "nickel" back and had two interceptions in the postseason.
"No bitterness at all," he said of losing his job and being allowed to escape into free agency. "You understand this is a business. There's no loyalty. It's just business. They have to make the best decision for San Diego. Just like them, I'm my own business. As you grow and become a professional, you understand this game and how it works."
This is how the Jaguars want it to work: Florence steps into the prime years of his career and helps lead the Jaguars to recovery on defense, after a down season that resulted in a middle-of-the-pack ranking. Making matters worse, the Jaguars' pass-defense was ravaged in the postseason by Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady.
"If you can't get to the quarterback, you can't win. It's going to be up to (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams. He's known in this league. You know who the coordinators are who stick out. He's one of those guys," Florence said.
What does Florence bring to the Jaguars defense?
"Aggressive, man-to-man coverage, allowing the rush to get there. All the blame shouldn't be put on the secondary. The coverage needs the rush just like the rush needs the coverage," Florence said.
"I wanted to go to a team that runs the ball. You have to be able to run the ball to win in this league. You have to be able to stop the run and you have to be able to run the ball," he added. "That was one of the keys in my decision."
In San Diego, Florence played with Jaguars quarterback acquisition Cleo Lemon when Lemon was on the Chargers' practice squad. There would seem to be a difference of opinion concerning one particular day in training camp.
"We had a training camp he doesn't like to remember. I was having a pretty good day. I had five (interceptions) on the day," Florence said.
"He has that one interception out of 3,000 throws he can brag on. That was it, one interception," Lemon said.
Florence has also been an offseason workout mate of Jaguars running back Fred Taylor's the last two years.
"I think I made the best choice for me," Florence said.