The Jaguars addressed half of their four targeted needs on the first day of free agency.
Quarterback Cleo Lemon joined wide receiver Jerry Porter in the acquisition category, as Lemon signed a contract Friday to become the Jaguars' new backup quarterback. Quarterback and wide receiver were considered to be two of the Jaguars' four need positions. The other two are defensive end and safety.
"We come into camp with solid depth behind David (Garrard) and we anticipate that Cleo will be the two, and obviously we feel good about the depth there at the quarterback position," head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters on Friday.
Backup quarterback became a role of distinct need when the Jaguars decided to allow last year's backup, Quinn Gray, to enter unrestricted free agency. Veteran Todd Bouman was signed to a contract earlier in the week, and the Jaguars might even select a quarterback in the draft.
"We took a look at the guys that were available, wanted to find a good fit and pursued a couple of guys that elected to either stay where they were or move on with an opportunity to start. We went through our list pretty aggressively; wanted to make sure that we acquired a good solid backup and wanted to make sure we got that handled. We feel like we have," Del Rio said.
Lemon, 28, logged time as a starter last year with the Dolphins. He had seven starts last season and led the Dolphins in passing with 173 completions in 309 pass attempts for 1,773 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. Lemon, 6-2, 215, was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Ravens out of Arkansas State in 2002.
Meanwhile, veteran defensive tackle Marcus Stroud was busy trying to find a team that might trade with the Jaguars for his services. The Jaguars had given Stroud, who is coming off two seasons that were compromised by an ankle injury, permission to seek a trade.
"Obviously, it's a production-based business," Del Rio said when asked why Stroud is being allowed to seek a trade. "Sometimes an opportunity to reignite, rejuvenate what you're about, what you want to be going forward; sometimes that's necessary. It may not occur. It may be that he's back here. I don't think you can get too far ahead of the story. I think it is what it is. Right now he's a Jaguar and his agent has permission to look for an opportunity, but there's not a fire sale."
Asked about looking for players at other positions of need, Del Rio said: "We've been looking at several positions and a couple of key guys were targeted and in some cases the money has gone through the roof, through the stratosphere and quite a ways up from there.
"We have an interest in certain players at certain positions. Again, you can manufacture; you can't pay a guy to be the next great player at his position and just because you paid him a lot of money he is that guy. Evaluate the talent, assign a value to him, try and operate and negotiate within those values. So, in a couple of cases we find ourselves in that situation where we're looking more toward preparing for the draft and looking for the next wave, the next level of free agents to come on the market," Del Rio added.
Defensive end, of course, is the Jaguars' most intense area of need. It is also the highest-priced position to address in free agency.
"The guys that can rush the passer, the guys that can protect the quarterback, they're premium positions. They always have been. Defensive end, offensive tackle, corner, quarterback; those are premium positions and if you're trying to get talent at those positions in an open market, it can get pretty steep," Del Rio said.
On another front, Del Rio confirmed that talks have begun between the Jaguars and Garrard on a new contract. "Oh, yeah, that's underway," Del Rio added.