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NFL Annual Meetings: Free agency likely not over


PHOENIX – All is quiet this week – or mostly quiet, anyway.

But Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said that may not remain the case when it comes to free agency and pre-draft roster moves.

While the high-profile, high-dollar first wave of free agency is two weeks in the past, Caldwell while speaking at the 2015 NFL Annual Meetings Monday said more moves could be made between now and the April 30-May 2 2015 NFL Draft.

"There are still talented players out there," Caldwell said Monday at the Arizona Biltmore, where owners and officials from all 32 teams gathered for the '15 meetings. "When we get back at the end of this week and the beginning of next week we'll regroup as a personnel staff and coaching staff, see what's out there and where we can improve. …

"There always is a chance players could get cut between now and the draft. And after the draft, there will be a group of players who get cut, too. We'll continue to go on and wherever we can get better we'll try to get better."

Caldwell on Monday also addressed the acquisition of running back Bernard Pierce, who the Jaguars claimed last Thursday off waivers from Baltimore. The Ravens waived Pierce last week following his arrest for driving under the influence.

"Bernard is a player we've followed since he came out of college," Caldwell said. "There was just really not a lot of risk in doing it outside of the off-field incident. With that, we felt like it was an isolated incident. Our research showed that he's been a good, upstanding citizen at Baltimore and through college.

"He's going into a contract year, so it's kind of his last chance here. He's more than talented enough to do it and he'll provide good competition in training camp."

Caldwell said Pierce has a real chance to be a significant contributor.

"Otherwise we wouldn't have claimed him," Caldwell said.

Caldwell also reiterated that he likes the status of the roster after the early stages of the offseason. The Jaguars signed seven free agents in Week 1 of free agency, with defensive end Jared Odrick, tight end Julius Thomas and right tackle Jermey Parnell virtually certain to start and linebacker Dan Skuta, cornerback Davon House and safety Sergio Brown likely to get the majority of reps and likely to start. The Jaguars also signed wide receiver/punt returner Bryan Walters late in the first week of free agency.

"We feel like we're at the point where we can line up right now," Caldwell said. "The previous two years, at this point in time in the year we couldn't line up with our 11 starters on offense and defense. Now, we feel like we can do it and hopefully we can improve it between now and the draft."

While Caldwell said immediately following the initial wave of free agency that the Jaguars hadn't spent quite as much as anticipated, he said Monday, "We still have some time."

"You never know what can happen," he said. "We have some flexibility and the good thing is we can carry it (this year's salary-cap space) over to next year, too. This is still a work in progress. I believe we'll continue to get better with it."

Also on Monday:

*Caldwell discussed the pursuit of former Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray in free agency, saying the team was serious early in the process but got out of the serious negotiating quickly. "We kind of read between the lines that we probably weren't his first choice, and if we were his first choice we probably would have made it happen," Caldwell said. Murray signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles with $18 million guaranteed. Caldwell said the Jaguars' offer was more than $2 million less than the Eagles. "More than that, and we'll leave it at that," Caldwell said, smiling. "We were serious about it, and we were probably the second-best offer they had." …

*Caldwell didn't rule out pursuing wide receiver Greg Jennings, a 10-year veteran who was released by the Minnesota Vikings last week. Caldwell said Jennings could fit the Jaguars' need for a slot receiver, but that no visit has been scheduled. …

*Caldwell said the decision to not re-sign wide receiver Cecil Shorts III was a combination of Shorts' injury history and confidence in a young receiver corps that includes second-year veterans Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. …

*Caldwell addressed former Jaguars linebacker J.T. Thomas signing during free agency with the New York Giants, saying, "We would have liked to keep him. It got to a point where we didn't think it would get done so we pursued Dan Skuta and felt better about the possibility of him getting done." …

*Caldwell addressed quarterback Blake Bortles recent work in California with several Jaguars receivers, saying Bortles organizing the sessions is great for team-building, camaraderie and "shows you how serious Blake is about improving not only himself, but the team. Hopefully, it pays dividends and hopefully they stay healthy." …

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