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J.J. joins the Jaguars


Looking to shore up a potential weak spot on offense, the Jaguars today announced the signing of veteran wide receiver J.J. Stokes to a one-year contract. A former first round draft pick of the 49ers, Stokes has spent all eight seasons of his career in San Francisco.

For the Jaguars, Stokes represents a great addition in experience at the wide receiver position. Despite the presence of perennial star Jimmy Smith, there has been a need for more production at the position. Prior to signing Stokes, no receiver vying for the number two spot had more than 16 receptions last season.

For Stokes, the deal represents a chance to start and play alongside a prime-time receiver in Smith. It is a role with which he is familiar, having played alongside Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens during his years in San Francisco. However, Stokes knows nothing will be handed to him.

"I told J.J. when we brought him in he had an opportunity, but that's it. There are no promises," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "The best guy is going to play, and we like the way that group is working right now."

Donald Hayes would seem to be Stokes' main competition for the starting role. A free agent acquisition from the Patriots this offseason, Hayes has started 32 games during his five-year NFL career. In 2000, he hauled in 66 receptions for 926 yards for the Carolina Panthers.

Stokes' best season came in 1998, when he recorded 63 receptions for 770 yards. Since that time, however, he has gone over 34 receptions just once.

Signing Stokes may not be a cure-all for the offense, but it adds an element to the wide receiver position that Del Rio desperately wants.

"I'd like to say this about the position. We feel good about making it as competitive as possible," Del Rio said.

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