JACKSONVILLE – Abry Jones won't be testing the market.
That's notable news for the Jaguars, and it's welcome news for Jones, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the NFL's 2017 league year on March 9.
Jones, who on Wednesday signed a contract that will keep him with the Jaguars, called the day "incredible."
"Just to see where I started, to see my hard work pay off -- it's a good feeling to know that a place where you want to stay they also want you there," Jones said Wednesday. "That was a big deal for me, and it means everything to me."
For Jones, Wednesday continues a story of remarkable development and progress.
Jones, who originally signed with the Jaguars as a rookie free agent from the University of Georgia, made the team as a rookie and has steadily increased his role since. He played eight games as a rookie, then started two games the following two seasons while missing just one game.
"It's a tough road, but it's only tough if you see it as tough," Jones said. "In that type of situation, you just have to see it as a blessing. There's no room for you to slack. There's no room for you to take days off. Because you know you came in undrafted and you know that each and every year they can draft a guy same size as you, same strength and all that …
"Knowing every day when you come in that it could be over just really sets your mindset to contribute for the team."
Jones has played for Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash in some capacity in each of his first four NFL seasons, with Wash serving as defensive line coach from 2013-14, defensive line coach/run-game coordinator in 2015 and defensive coordinator last season.
Jones said Wash told him when he originally signed with the Jaguars if he worked hard and did the right things "everything would pay off."
"I came in, stuck to the plan and I did everything I had to do and I'm here today," Jones said.
He played all 15 games this past season, and moved into the starting lineup after nose tackle Roy Miller sustained a season-ending injury in an October loss to the Oakland Raiders. The Jaguars' run defense remained strong with Jones in the lineup, and his athleticism and playmaking ability stood out over the final nine games.
Jones (6-feet-4, 318 pounds), who likely would have been sought-after on the free-agent market, has 5.5 career sacks and registered a career-high 26 tackles in 2016.
Asked the difference between Wednesday and the final hours of the 2013 draft, Jones smiled and said, "Very, very, very, very, very …"
"The biggest difference for me is I knew I had a home and I knew where I was going to be," Jones said. "On draft day, you don't really know. You get a couple of calls, people say stuff and they don't really call back. Knowing how hard that day was, to come here, it's nice to have."
The Jaguars last season finished No. 6 in the NFL in total yards allowed after finishing 24th in that category in 2015. Jones said it was important to him to return and be part of what he believes will be a quality defense and quality team in the coming seasons.
"I've seen over the years the talent we've been bringing in to build a great team," he said. "I really didn't want to leave and have to see from the outside what this team is about to become."