A person familiar with negotiations says the Jacksonville Jaguars and former Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin have agreed to a three-year deal worth up to $44.5 million and includes $29 million guaranteed, the most significant move for new coach Urban Meyer in his NFL debut.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Tuesday because neither side can make free agent agreements official until the new league year begins Wednesday.
Griffin’s agent, Buddy Baker, tweeted “Duval,” a nod to the city’s rallying cry and an apparent public confirmation of his client’s move east.
Griffin will be an immediate starter opposite CJ Henderson, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, and could help the Jaguars have one of the league’s best coverage tandems.
Griffin has 48 pass breakups, including six interceptions, in four years with the Seahawks. He had a career-best three picks last season and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2019.
His twin brother, Shaquem, could join him in Jacksonville. The Seahawks aren’t expected to place a restricted free agent tender on him, meaning he would become a free agent Wednesday and would be free to sign anywhere. The brothers grew up in St. Petersburg, about four hours away, and played college football at UCF.
Shaquill Griffin is the third surefire defensive starter to join Jacksonville in free agency, following safety Rayshawn Jenkins (four years, $35 million) and defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (three years, $24.4 million).
Jacksonville ranked last in nearly every defensive category in 2020 and allowed a franchise-record 30.75 points a game.
The Jaguars have now landed 10 free agents to go along with re-signing guard/center Tyler Shatley and cornerbacks Tre Herndon and Sidney Jones.
They added two more backups Tuesday: former Baltimore defensive end Jihad Ward and former Carolina tight end Chris Manhertz.
Ward reunites with former Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who is now Jacksonville’s defensive coordinator. The 6-foot-5, 287-pound Ward has eight sacks in 51 games with Baltimore, Indianapolis and Oakland.
Manhertz has become one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the league. He has just 12 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown in 70 games over five seasons with the Panthers. ESPN reported he agreed to a two-year, $7.25 million deal than includes $4.25 million guaranteed.
Jacksonville opened free agency with more salary cap space (about $73 million) than any other NFL team. But Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke landed none of the top free agents available until agreeing to terms with Griffin.
Meyer insisted he wanted to beef up the defensive line, but Carl Lawson, Bud Dupree, Dalvin Tomlinson ended up elsewhere. He vowed to revamp the tight end room, but he failed to successfully woo Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith. Both are headed to New England.
Meyer clearly was focused on building depth. He added receiver/returner Jamal Agnew (three years, $14.25 million), running back Carlos Hyde (two years, $4.5 million), safety Johnathan Ford (two years, $4.2 million) and receiver Phillip Dorsett on Monday, and re-signed defensive end Dawuane Smoot (two years, $14 million).
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