JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars signed a new linebacker Tuesday.
A major reason it happened was another offseason addition: defensive assistant Dom Capers, the team’s defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000, who was hired last month as a defensive assistant.
Linebacker Jake Ryan, a fourth-round selection by the Green Bay Packers in the 2015 NFL Draft, on Tuesday morning signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent. Ryan played for Capers from 2015-2017, with Capers serving as the Packers’ defensive coordinator from 2009-2017.
Ryan called Capers a “big part of my decision.”
“Dom has been a huge part of my life from the time I was in Green Bay,” Ryan told jaguars.com Tuesday morning. “He has helped me out a bunch. [He] kind of guided me through everything when I came in as a rookie. I played outside linebacker a little bit in college, and my senior year, I switched to inside.
“Dom kind of took me under his wing when I got to Green Bay and helped me out.”
Ryan (6-feet-2, 240 pounds), 27, who played collegiately at the University of Michigan, missed the 2018 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in training camp. He started 27 of 43 games played with Green Bay, starting five as a rookie in 2015, 10 in 2016 and 12 in 2017.
Ryan said he was “pretty far along” in his rehabilitation.
“I have been doing my linebacker drills – cutting, running, doing as much as I can,” he said. “[I am] trying to get back as fast as I can, but just taking it day by day and trying to get back as fast as I can.”
Ryan, who has recorded 213 tackles with a sack and three passes defensed in three full NFL seasons, will join a Jaguars defense that ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed in 2017 and fifth last season.
“They are fast – great D-line, great secondary,” Ryan said. “I just want to come in and make an impact. I am just here to help.”
The Jaguars currently have eight linebackers on the roster: Ryan, starting middle linebacker Myles Jack, starting weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith starting strong-side linebacker Leon Jacobs, Nick DeLuca, Blair Brown, Christian Kuntz and Donald Payne.
Ryan became the fifth UFA signed by the Jaguars since free agency opened last Wednesday. The others: tight end Geoff Swaim, offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, wide receiver Chris Conley and quarterback Nick Foles.
“It’s huge,” Ryan said of the team signing Foles last week. “Nick, I think is a great addition to this program. I actually know Nick. We have the same agent and everything. Knowing what he brings to the table, I think he’s a great fit for this organization and I think you guys are going to love him.”