The Jaguars have addressed their need for depth at linebacker by agreeing to a contract with veteran Nate Wayne, who was with the Philadelphia Eagles last season.
Wayne, 6-0, 237, made eight starts at weakside linebacker in 2004, including the Eagles' playoff win over Minnesota. He was credited with 38 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles during the regular season.
"He's an outstanding person. He's played on a winning team and went to the Super Bowl, so here's a guy who knows what it takes to go all the way. He wants to be here in Jacksonville. He sees this team on the move," Jaguars pro personnel director Charlie Bailey said.
The Jaguars considered signing Kevin Hardy, who starred for the team from 1996-2001. Hardy was recently released by the Bengals. Weighing against Hardy in the Jaguars' decision was the team's desire for a contributor to its special teams. Wayne offers that potential.
Wayne, 30, was a seventh-round draft choice of the Broncos in 1998. After two seasons as a special teams player in Denver, Wayne was traded to Green Bay during the 2000 preseason and immediately stepped into the Packers starting lineup. He totaled 118 tackles and two sacks that season.
The Ole Miss product's best season with the Packers was in 2002, when Wayne had 132 tackles, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
He was signed to a four-year deal by the Eagles in 2003 and started every game that season, including two in the postseason. Wayne had 135 tackles, three sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles.
With the Jaguars, Wayne steps into the void created by the release of linebacker Tommy Hendricks, who was a special teams star for the Jaguars last year.
"He has played special teams in the past. He's a very capable special teams player," Bailey said of Wayne. "He's a competitive player. He's very smart and has starting experience. He's an athletic guy who can play run and pass."
Wayne's release by the Eagles was prompted by his rising salary, which was to hit $2.2 million this year and spike to $4.5 million in '06. Terms of his contract with the Jaguars were not disclosed.