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The Jacksonville Jaguars today signed former Buffalo Bills linebacker Bryce Paup to a long-term contract. Paup, 29, has played in 107 regular season games with 83 starts and 65.5 career sacks. A four-time Pro Bowler and one-time NFL sack leader, Paup is the first free agent to sign with the Jaguars this off-season.

Originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round of the 1990 draft, Paup has been selected to the last four Pro Bowls, including the 1995 and 1997 games as a starter. In 1997, he started all 16 games and recorded 9.5 sacks at left outside linebacker in the Bills' 3-4 defensive scheme. In 1996, he started eleven of twelve games played and recorded six sacks and forced two fumbles.

Paup, 6-5, 247, was signed by Buffalo in 1995 as a free agent after visiting several teams, including Jacksonville. In 15 games started, he had a career high 126 tackles (76 solo) with an NFL-leading 17.5 sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year by AP, UPI, and Pro Football Weekly among others. He was also selected by Football News as the AFC Player of the Year, chosen as NFL Alumni's linebacker of the year, and was named to the All-Madden team.

In 1994, Paup started all 16 games for the Green Bay Packers and was named to his first Pro Bowl as he finished the season second on the team with 79 tackles and third on the team with 7.5 sacks. He also scored his first NFL touchdown on a ten-yard interception return, one of three interceptions on the season. He started at four different positions for the Packers in 1993, finishing second on the team (behind Reggie White) with 11 sacks. In 1991 and 1992, he played both linebacker and defensive end, primarily as a situational pass-rusher. As a rookie in 1990 he played in five games, primarily on special teams.

Paup was a three-year starter at Northern Iowa after lettering in both football and basketball for Scranton (Iowa) High. He and his wife, Denise, have two sons, Alex and Nathan.

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The Jaguars have also re-signed tight end Rich Griffith and guard Mark Nori. Griffith was one of eight unrestricted free agents on the Jaguars roster.

Griffith, 28, played in all 16 games in 1997, including one start. He saw action primarily in three-tight end sets and as the long-snapper on special teams. He has played in 51 career games after being drafted by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 1993 draft and signed by the Jaguars in 1995. He is one of only five Jaguars to have played in all 52 games (regular season and postseason) in franchise history.

Nori, 24, was signed by the Jaguars on December 9 from the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad, where he had spent the first 15 weeks of the season after signing as a rookie free agent. He played collegiately at Boston College, where he was recruited by Tom Coughlin.

Today's signings brings the Jaguars' current roster count to 58 players, not counting the seven unsigned unrestricted free agents.


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