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NFL Annual Meeting: Khan encouraged by free agency


BOCA RATON – Shad Khan likes the Jaguars' offseason moves so far.

That's one thing to know from the Jaguars owner's media availability Tuesday at the 2016 NFL Annual Meetings, and another thing to know is this:

While he shares the offseason optimism many around the league feel about the Jaguars, and while he believes the team has improved in the offseason, he also knows such things only go so far.

So, how much have the Jaguars improved during a busy, high-profile, expensive and seemingly productive 2016 offseason? Khan's answer was optimistic – with a caveat.

"I guess we'll find out this fall," Khan said late Tuesday morning at the Boca Raton Resort.

The Jaguars in the last two weeks signed seven unrestricted free agents: running back Chris Ivory, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, cornerback Prince Amukamara, free safety Tashaun Gipson, left tackle Kelvin Beachum, guard Mackenzie Bernadeau punter Brad Nortman. Bernadeau likely will be a reserve, with the rest expected to start and/or play key roles.

The moves were largely designed to improve a defense that ranked 24th in the NFL in yards allowed last season and a running offense that finished 27th in the NFL. The Jaguars spent big in free agency, signing Jackson to a $90 million contract with $42 million guaranteed and guaranteeing the six players about $70 million total.

"I was really encouraged," Khan said. "[General Manager Dave] Caldwell, [Head Coach] Gus [Bradley] and I had spoken before free agency that whatever we do we want to be able to move the needle. Definitely, I'm encouraged."

The Jaguars also pursued defensive end Olivier Vernon of the Miami Dolphins, with Caldwell later saying the team went well outside of the team's "comfort zone" financially. Vernon eventually signed with the New York Giants for a reported $52.5 million guaranteed.

Khan said while he was in communication with Caldwell during the negotiations he put no limit on what the team could guarantee Vernon.

"That's what they [Caldwell and the front-office staff] are there for, to strike a balance of efficiently using the salary cap and getting the best players," Khan said.

The overall vibe around the Jaguars at the meetings has been positive, with many national media praising the team's offseason moves and predicting improvement from a 5-11 season in 2015. Khan was asked if such feedback was gratifying.

"Yes, you can have gratification, but we haven't won a game yet," he said. "The signs point in the right direction, so it should give us confidence and cause for optimism."

Khan said while some consider him having been patient with Bradley and the current regime considering the 12-36 record over the past three seasons he doesn't see it that way. The Jaguars when Bradley and Caldwell were hired planned a rebuilding process that would emphasize drafting and developing drafted players, a process that takes time.

"To me, I can see the big picture," Khan said. "We want to make sure we're communicating to the fans and they understand what's going on. Regrettably, this is something you have to go through to have something sustainable and winning for the long term."

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