JACKSONVILLE – A.J. Bouye officially has joined the Jaguars.
And with his signing Friday morning, the Jaguars added a front-line young cornerback to an increasingly talented young secondary.
Bouye, a cornerback from the Houston Texans, signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Jaguars Friday morning at EverBank Field. The NFL's 2017 league year and official beginning of 2017 free agency began Thursday at 4 p.m.
"I looked at what they had around and saw the direction that they're going, and the athletes they have," Bouye said of the Jaguars. "I want to contribute to that."
Bouye (6-feet-0, 191 pounds), 25, a fifth-year veteran who originally signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 NFL Draft, started 11 games for Houston this past season. He emerged as one of the NFL's top young corners after starting eight games and playing 35 in his first three NFL seasons.
Bouye, who played collegiately at Central Florida, is expected to replace Prince Amukamara as the Jaguars' starting cornerback opposite Jalen Ramsey. Amukamara, the starter opposite Ramsey last season, became an unrestricted free agent Thursday at 4 p.m.
Bouye said Coughlin and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone both had ties to former Central Florida head coach George O'Leary, a factor that made Jacksonville attractive.
"[Jaguars quarterback and former Central Florida quarterback] Blake [Bortles] can tell you about how that was run," Bouye said. "It's all about hard work and you have to earn everything. You can't expect to be mediocre. That's what we're going to do here, is expect the best, work hard and compete every day. I'm looking forward to it."
Bouye has six career interceptions with 32 passes defensed. He had an interception and a career-high 16 passes defensed this past season.
Bouye described himself as a player who believes in "hard work, preparation and believing in my teammates and being a great team player."
The Jaguars' likely starting secondary now looks like: Ramsey, free safety Tashaun Gipson and Bouye – with the strong safety position officially undetermined. Johnathan Cyprien, the starting strong safety last season, became a free agent Thursday.
"I'm very excited," Bouye said. "I watch a lot of film, so I watch a lot of those guys – especially Gipson when he was in Cleveland [with the Browns]. I definitely knew about him. I became a fan of Ramsey early, especially at Florida State – then watching what he did against us [last season]."
The Jaguars on Friday morning also officially signed defensive end Lerentee McCray. McCray previously had been with the Buffalo Bills.
The signings of Bouye and McCray came less than a day after the Jaguars' first major 2017 acquisition became official, with left tackle Branden Albert officially coming to the Jaguars in a trade from the Miami Dolphins on Thursday afternoon.
Albert, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was acquired for the Jaguars' seventh-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. The team also finalized a trade sending tight end Julius Thomas to Miami for a 2017 seventh-round draft selection Thursday afternoon.
The Jaguars also released defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks Thursday and announced they had re-signed wide receiver Bryan Walters. They had announced the release of cornerback Davon House and defensive end Jared Odrick in recent weeks.
Teams had been able to negotiate with agents for free agents from other teams since Tuesday at noon. But while many deals have been reported, those deals couldn't be officially confirmed or finalized by teams until 4 p.m. Thursday.
It was expected that the Jaguars could be active at several positions in free agency, including interior offensive line, cornerback, safety and defensive end. Jaguars.com will report free agency news as it becomes official.