Jaguars agree to terms with Porter, complete trade for Williamson
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars believe they improved their receiving corps with two guys eager for a fresh start.
They also agreed to terms with backup quarterback Cleo Lemon.
The moves are part of a makeover for Jacksonville, which finished 11-5 last season and beat Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs.
The Jaguars changed four assistant coaches and expect even more personnel moves in hopes of closing the gap on AFC powers Indianapolis and New England. Jacksonville opened free agency about $30 million under the salary cap.
That number could grow, too, since the team gave three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud permission to seek a trade.
"Everything we're doing is geared toward putting a better product on the field next year and contending for a championship," coach Jack Del Rio said.
It starts with the offensive changes.
They gave Porter $10 million guaranteed and expect him to step into the No. 1 role.
Porter caught 44 passes for 705 yards and six touchdowns last season in Oakland. He had just one reception in 2006, the year he demanded a trade in training camp, was suspended two weeks for conduct detrimental to the team and was inactive for nine games.
"We're satisfied that those are things that we believe will stay in his past," Del Rio said.
Jacksonville gave Minnesota a sixth-round draft pick for Williamson, the seventh overall selection in 2005. It equates to a low-risk deal that could give the Jaguars a deep threat they haven't had since Jimmy Smith retired following the 2005 season.
Williamson will need to start hanging onto the ball, though. He had 79 receptions for 1,067 yards and three touchdowns in three disappointing, drop-filled seasons.
Williamson has two years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $910,000 in 2008 and $1.4 million in 2009.
"We're giving Troy a chance, an opportunity for him to come down here and rejuvenate himself, have fun, don't worry about the high expectations that were associated with his selection and his place there," Del Rio said.
Lemon started seven games last season in Miami, but wasn't part of the team's future under new football operations head Bill Parcells.
He will serve as David Garrard's backup in Jacksonville.
Although the Jaguars started making moves on the offensive side of the ball, they also plan to address defensive holes.
Stroud missed eight games the last two seasons because of a nagging ankle injury. He also was suspended four games last year for violating the league's steroid and related substances policy. Del Rio has said the former first-round draft pick probably won't return to full speed.
"Obviously, this is a production-based business," Del Rio said. "Right now, he's a Jaguar. His agent has permission to look for an opportunity, but there's not a fire sale."
There might be a signing frenzy, though. Del Rio said the team was looking to make more deals -- just not at receiver, where Jacksonville has drafted four players the last four years, signed two free agents and traded for Williamson.
"We feel like we've adequately addressed that position from a standpoint of adding one proven guy and adding one guy that's got a lot of promise and potential," Del Rio said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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