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View from the O-Zone: Lewis' re-signing a rare, feel-good story


JACKSONVILLE – This is a feel-good story, no doubt and without question.

It's also a rare story in the NFL these days – a first-round selection who plays double-digit seasons, and gets a chance to finish his career with the team that drafted him.

That's Marcedes Lewis' story, and make no mistake:

Lewis understands its rarity.

He understands he's fortunate.

That's why you could almost hear the smile as he spoke by cellphone late Wednesday night of his decision to re-sign with the Jaguars, his decision to stay in Jacksonville rather than accept a chance to play for his hometown Los Angeles Rams.

This is what Lewis wanted, no doubt and without question.

"It's a blessing," Lewis said Wednesday. "Usually, if you're lucky enough to make it 10 years, a team says, 'OK, he's declining, he's not at the same level, let's go ahead and get rid of him.'''

Lewis, the Jaguars' first-round draft choice in the 2006 NFL Draft, on Wednesday night instead re-signed with the team. He signed a reported three-year deal, and because he is entering his 11th NFL season, the contract gives him a legitimate chance to finish his career in Jacksonville.

That makes him the rarest of modern NFL rarities -- a player now on his third NFL contract playing for his third full-time head coach and third general manager. Lewis was drafted in 2006 by then-General Manager James Harris, then was re-signed by then-General Manager Gene Smith in 2011.

Now, he has re-signed again with General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley.

That staying power is something in which Lewis said he takes pride. He said Wednesday it means something too, to return and play again for Bradley. Lewis has been a strong believer in Bradley since the head coach's first season in 2013, and he remains convinced that the Jaguars can become a winning franchise under Bradley.

A chance to be a part of what the Jaguars continue to build …

"It means everything," Lewis said. "I was talking to Gus about it today. He's always been a man of his word. He's been something we can hang our hat on and believe in, that we're going to get the same energy every single day. He continues to challenge not only the players, but the coaches and everybody in the organization.

"That's what he does and he takes a lot of pride in what he does. He rubs off on everybody in the locker room. To be a part of it and continue to be here is special."

Lewis' role, of course, has changed over the years, and it continued to change last season. He was considered a pass-catching tight end entering the NFL. Within a few years he was known as one of the NFL's best run-blockers. He emerged as a Pro Bowl tight end in 2010, a year in which he caught 10 touchdown passes. Now, as he enters the final seasons of his NFL career, he does so in a complementary role to Julius Thomas, the pass-catching, big-play tight end the Jaguars signed last offseason.

"I'm supposed to be the guy who's going to be doing the dirty work, making the block on third and inches, and making those power blocks,  Lewis said. "When the ball comes my way, I can make my plays."

Lewis laughed when asked about the irony of where he will finish his career. He not only played collegiately at UCLA, he is a Los Angeles, West-Coast guy through and through. He still often wears a Dodgers baseball cap, and the temptation of playing in California once would have been strong.

Not in this case. Not anymore. Now …

Well, while Los Angeles may be his home in many ways, he said now only has one NFL home.

"The grass is not always greener on the other side," Lewis said. "After I finish my career, I'll be settling down in L.A."

Lewis paused a moment, then added with a laugh, "L.A.'s not going anywhere."

No, for now, L.A. can wait because the player has adapted and changed through a decade in the NFL is getting his wish to finish his career where it started. That's a rare thing in the NFL.

But when it happens, it sure does feel good.

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