JACKSONVILLE – One of free agency's biggest names is Jacksonville-bound. Officially.
In a move that has been widely rumored and reported in the days leading to the NFL's 2016 free-agency period, Malik Jackson – a key player on the defending Super Bowl champions – officially has joined the Jaguars.
Jackson, a versatile defensive lineman who played defensive end for the Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos, signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent Thursday afternoon.
"It's a true blessing," Jackson said. "It's definitely a great feeling."
The team announced the move shortly after it became official.
"They've got something good going," Jackson said of the Jaguars. "They've been building a lot of players. They've built the offense up, and now they need some help on defense. They called me and it's a great opportunity to change the culture and get the ball rolling again.
Jackson added, "This isn't a game; it's a lifestyle. That's what everybody has to understand – that football is a lifestyle in the NFL."
Jackson (6-feet-5, 293 pounds), originally a fifth-round selection by Denver in the 2012 NFL Draft, has started 24 of 52 NFL games. That included all 16 games this past season, when he emerged as one of the key players on a Broncos defense that keyed their run to the Super Bowl.
Jackson said he realizes his role will be different in Jacksonville than in Denver, and that he will be more of a veteran and more of a leader on a young defense.
"I'm ready," he said. "I'm ready to take that responsibility on. I'm not going to say, 'I'm ready to lead the team,' but I'm ready to be part of a cast. I'm happy to be part of it."
Take a look at some of the best images of one of the newest Jaguars, Malik Jackson.
Jackson, who has started seven postseason games, registered 45 tackles this past season and defensed seven passes. He also had five sacks and also recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the Broncos' 24-10 victory over Carolina in Super Bowl 50.
Jackson played in all 16 regular-season games in 2014, recording a team-high 11 tackles for loss and 15 quarterback hits. He appeared in all 16 games in his second season in 2013.
"Everything that came before this point is just a blessing," Jackson said. "I know I'm pretty monotone right now, but it's super surreal right now. I can't put into words or express how I'm feeling. You work hard from the time you're eight years old … you're going to Pop Warner, working … you sacrifice …
"To be here in this room right now is just surreal. It's a blessing and I'm happy to be here." [