With the addition of kick-returner/wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, Jaguars player personnel director James Harris says the team has turned its attention to the upcoming NFL draft.
"We're focusing on the draft now. We're keeping some (free agent) options open, but our focus now is on the draft," Harris told jaguars.com.
Lewis, 5-7, 180, agreed yesterday to a three-year deal believed to be worth $3 million, including a $1 million signing bonus. He became the sixth free agent signed by the Jaguars, who've opened Wayne Weaver's checkbook in the last week to the tune of more than $12 million paid in bonus money.
"We upgraded our roster," Harris said of the acquisitions.
Lewis suffered through the worst season of his seven-year career last season with the expansion Houston Texans, after a sensational six-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, Harris and head coach Jack Del Rio were with Lewis in Baltimore.
"He makes good decisions; when to fair-catch it. He sets up his blocking; has a knack for returning," Harris said of Lewis.
In 2002, Lewis was sixth in the AFC in punt-returning with 36 returns for 280 yards and a 7.8-yard average. He was 15th in the conference in kick-returning with 46 returns for 961 yards and a 20.9-yard average. He scored no touchdowns and caught only two passes for 41 yards.
But with the Ravens, Lewis was a touchdown-maker, taking two punts back for touchdowns in each of the 1997, '98 and 2000 seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl in '98 and, in the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV victory, Lewis returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He also led the league with a 16.1-yard punt-return average in 2000.
"A returner is a play-maker and can change field position. Some teams wouldn't kick to him," Harris said.
As a receiver in Baltimore, Lewis caught 42 and 41 passes and scored six touchdowns in each of the '97 and '98 seasons, but his pass-catching contributions fell off sharply in his final three seasons with the Ravens. Harris said Lewis will be used in "situational receiving packages. We want to keep him fresh."