Jaguars News and Notes: Poe, Murray land elsewhere, special teams focus clear in free agency

Jaguars beat writer Mike Kaye talks about the draft, team needs moving forward

A pair of Jaguars free agent targets have decided to take their talents elsewhere.

The Jaguars were unable to lock up running back Latavius Murray or nose tackle Dontari Poe, despite hosting both on visits Monday.

Poe has agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons, according to multiple reports. The Minnesota Vikings announced they signed Murray on Thursday.

Poe reached a one-year, $8 million deal with Atlanta. Murray signed a three-year pact worth a total value of $15 million if he reaches all of his incentives, according to ESPN.

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Both deals would have worked with the Jaguars' cap situation. However, it does appear the team would only sign one or both for bargain prices. 

It's an understandable outlook when you consider that Murray was rarely used as a three-down back and was replaced in the Oakland lineup multiple times during his three years of play with the Raiders.

Poe has battled back and ankle injuries over the last two seasons and those ailments have impacted his play. 

While both players are talented, they seem to be one-year rentals.

Signing Poe to be part of a nose tackle rotation would have done little for a team that is more than one player away from the playoffs. Murray being used in a rotation with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon would have likely offered more of the same for that situation.

The team just signed nose tackle Abry Jones to a four-year, $16 million deal. Adding Poe would have stunted Jones' playing time in the first year of his big deal.

Jacksonville already invested a large salary in Ivory and an early pick in Yeldon. Ivory would cost more to cut than keep and the team may not be done with Yeldon, who was a second round pick just two years ago.

Poe made sense on a low-cost, high reward deal, but the Jaguars have other options with him off the market. New York Giants defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins offers versatility that eludes Poe. He also played for EVP of football operations Tom Coughlin while the two were with the Giants.

At running back, the draft class is stacked with potential starting talent. The group of prospects is so good that running backs in free agency have been stonewalled. Veterans have been forced to take short-term or cheap deals. 

Special teams taken seriously

New special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis has been a clear winner for the Jaguars this offseason. He has gained several assets over the last few days in hopes of turning around Jacksonville's special teams unit.

The team signed linebackers Lerentee McCray and Audie Cole in the opening days of free agency. Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Josh McNary joined the duo on Thursday

The new special teams linebacker trio will be aimed at improving a group that ranked among the worst in the league over the last two seasons.

"There will be more emphasis on playing special teams," Coughlin said in February.

"I think for our players to recognize it properly, every man on the roster must be supportive and be prepared to play on special teams. Even starters can play one or two special teams. That’s a strong message, but it’s a good message and that is necessary here.”

McCray, a former Florida Gator, was signed on the first day of free agency because of his special teams prowess.

“He’s a very good special teamer and that’s his main objective right now," general manager Dave Caldwell said during McCray's introductory press conference.

"And we also have some hope for him to go rush the passer too. He has got some pass rush skills and I think in our system and our scheme he can just rush the passer and not worry about doing all the zone drops and dropping the coverage. I think he still has a high ceiling.”

Cole produced seven special teams tackles for the Minnesota Vikings last season. McNary led the Colts with nine special teams tackles this past year.

Other News and Notes

- Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith earned a lot of extra cash with his performance last season.

The NFL announced the figures for the performance-based pay distributions program this week. The program is "a collectively-bargained benefit that compensates players based upon their playing time and salary levels."

Smith made $293,471.03 in performance-based pay and $85,686.64 in a veteran performance bonus. Overall, Smith made $379,157.67 in extra money for his work last season. That total ranked 13th in the league.

Smith's base salary was $600,000 last season.

Jaguars guard A.J. Cann made $76,986.67 under a veteran performance bonus.

- In former Jaguars news, cornerback Davon House re-signed with the Green Bay Packers, just two years after leaving Lambeau Field for Jacksonville. The Packers also re-signed former Jaguars linebacker Jordan Tripp, who played for Green Bay last season.

- The Jaguars hosted tight end Chris Gragg on a visit on Wednesday. Gragg was a seventh-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2013. The 26-year-old caught 24 receptions for 251 yards and two touchdowns in four seasons with the Bills. He missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

- Notable Jaguars free agents still left on the market include running back Denard Robinson and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. Recently released veterans like defensive tackles Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller and defensive end Jared Odrick remain available as well.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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