He was an afterthought in 2000 draft, the Jaguars' second selection in the seventh round and the 241st player chosen overall. Six years later, Rob Meier was the player the Jaguars targeted to keep from making it into free agency.
The Jaguars have signed Meier to a multi-year contract, keeping intact one of the game's best and deepest defensive lines. Meier, 28, will continue to provide depth at tackle and end. The Jaguars have also signed reserve linebacker Tony Gilbert, who was scheduled to become a restricted free agent.
"Rob had a pretty good year rushing the passer," defensive line coach Ray Hamilton said. "Whenever he was in the game he was a very productive player. I think he'll be even better this year because he was coming off surgery for a broken ankle last year."
Meier was tied for the third-most sacks on the team last season with six. He played in all 16 games, making two starts, 47 tackles, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble.
It's thought Meier fits perfectly as a backup player in the Jaguars' defensive line rotation, which features tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson and ends Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer. Hamilton, however, regards Meier as a full-time player.
"He could play 70 plays if he has to. He can play a game. We try to play all of our guys. If we had to play Rob every down he'd be fine," Hamilton said.
Had Meier made it into free agency, it's likely he would've attracted a team willing to pay him as a starter. In re-signing with the Jaguars, Meier expressed his willingness to stay with the Jaguars and remain in his current role.
"He's a solid backup who has played well at either end and defensive tackle," Jaguars salary cap manager and lead contract negotiator Paul Vance said. "He's a player we didn't want to lose. I think you can look at the whole defensive line rotation and say it's a strong bunch of guys."
Gilbert played in 16 games last season. He was one of the Jaguars' best special teams players.