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View from the O-Zone: Hurns extension makes for great day


JACKSONVILLE – This was an easy one to write.

That stands to reason – because for the Jaguars' organization, Thursday's decision was as easy as the day was great.

Indeed, pretty much everything about Allen Hurns re-signing with the Jaguars Thursday was easy – and everything about this feels like a great story. As General Manager David Caldwell told Hurns after the wide receiver signed his contract extension, this was a no-brainer.

No-brainer? Yeah, this pretty much defined it.

Hurns, who originally signed with the Jaguars as undrafted rookie free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft, signed a four-year contract extension late Thursday afternoon. The terms were not disclosed, but reports were it was worth $20 million guaranteed.

"It's very exciting," Hurns said shortly after signing an extension that runs through the 2020 season. "It still feels surreal."

Whatever the exact numbers, it's life-changing money. And well-deserved.

Here's one thing to know about Hurns:

The quotes you read in this story? About what it means to have signed the extension, to stay with the Jaguars? About what it means for teammates, coaches – indeed the entire organization – to be genuinely thrilled for him?

Those quotes are genuine. The guy's for real.

So, were fans happy for Hurns Thursday? Were teammates happy? Were coaches happy?

Darned right they were, and even the media sounded happy as one by one they congratulated Hurns during a conference call early Thursday evening. Hurns thanked every reporter individually for their congratulations.

He talked too, of appreciating being part of the Jaguars' organization at a time when it seems headed in the right direction. He talked of appreciating Head Coach Gus Bradley and Caldwell.

He also talked repeatedly of his story, and it's indeed a great story. Passed over in all seven rounds of the draft from the University of Miami, he quickly emerged as key to this young offense. He started eight games as a rookie with six touchdown receptions. He started 15 games with 10 touchdowns in 2015, and entering his third NFL season is one of a handful of players who truly can be called the young core of this franchise.

The Jaguars paid him like it Thursday. After they did, Hurns talked of never forgetting that story. This isn't the kind of guy who will coast after signing a contract.

"No matter how much money I make I'm still going to step on that field thinking of the day I went undrafted," he said. "That's with me forever. The money doesn't change me at all. I will always stay true."

It is indeed hard to imagine a much safer NFL investment.

"The thing about the NFL is no one cares about what you did your first year or your second year – you have to continue to come out here and prove that," he said. "Guys like me and Allen Robinson, we're excited about this upcoming season because guys want to see us progress."

Hurns, Robinson and quarterback Blake Bortles, core players in this team's development, almost certainly will sign extensions in the coming offseasons. Because they were drafted in 2014, Bortles and Robinson cannot sign extensions until after the 2016 season. Hurns could sign his now because he wasn't drafted.

Because Hurns was eligible, the signing indeed was expected this offseason. And, really, about the only surprising things about the signing were its timing and its ease. Hurns said he figured something might get done nearer to training camp in August. He knew his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was to be in Jacksonville Thursday to meet with the team, "but we didn't expect to get a deal done."

But a deal did get done, and because it did, Hurns became the first Caldwell core player to sign an extension. That's fitting because he in a very real sense defines what you want from a young player. Leadership. Work ethic. Respect of his teammates, etc.

The outpouring of congratulations from teammates on Twitter was real and heartfelt. It came from Robinson. And cornerback Demetrius McCray. And center Brandon Linder. And center Luke Bowanko. And cornerback Aaron Colvin. And defensive end Chris Smith. And wide receiver Marqise Lee, who wrote that Hurns deserves "every bit of that bread."

Tweeted Jaguars senior vice president of football technology and analytics Tony Khan: "Allen Hurns is one of my favorite people. I'm honored to work with a man who works so hard and loves football so much."

Khan's tweet summed up the feelings of those who know Hurns, who said of the congratulations, "It means a lot. It's all genuine. These are the guys you work with every day. They are family. I know tomorrow they'll give me a hard time about it, but at the end of the day, it's all love."

It indeed was all love around the Jaguars Thursday evening. On Twitter and everywhere else …

Hardly surprising on a day when the team did something as easy as the day was great.

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