* *JACKSONVILLE – Lerentee McCray joined the Jaguars Friday morning. Officially.
And with that – after weeks of speculation and a couple of days of high-profile negotiation – the Jaguars' 2017 free-agency moves started becoming official.
McCray, a defensive end from the Buffalo Bills, signed as a 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.
"It's overwhelming," McCray said. "I'm just happy to be back here in Florida, close to home. This is the closest [NFL] team to where I'm from, Ocala, so I'm happy to be back here."
McCray (6-feet-2, 246 pounds), 26, a five-year veteran who originally signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 NFL Draft, played 13 games for Buffalo this past season.
"I'll pretty much do whatever it takes," McCray said. "I just want to win."
McCray, who played collegiately at Florida, has played 37 NFL games – primarily as a reserve and special teams player. He played for the Broncos from 2013-2015, playing under current Jaguars special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis during Denver's Super Bowl championship season in 2015.
"That's one third of the game," McCray said of special teams. "That's an improvement we have to make as a team and an organization and I'm definitely looking forward to putting my 10 toes down and helping us excel and take it to the next level."
McCray's signing came less than a day after the Jaguars' first major 2017 acquisition became official, with left tackle Branden Albert officially joining 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.
"All I can say is we're headed toward excellence," McCray said. "With the new additions they've added and what they've been doing, we're headed to excellence. If anybody has any doubt in the Jacksonville Jaguars, they better straighten up their vision, because we're on a roll."
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.