Team losing veteran defenders left and right

Originally Published: August 30, 2004
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

For the second time in a week, the Jacksonville Jaguars have lopped off a veteran who was supposed to provide the team with a consistent outside pass rush.

Nine-year veteran defensive end Hugh Douglas, a high-profile free agent acquisition just a year ago, was released by the Jags on Monday.

Hugh Douglas
Douglas

Jacksonville cut the franchise's all-time sacks leader, end Tony Brackens, last week after a calf injury kept him off the field for most of training camp.

Although Douglas' production last season and during this preseason was subpar, his jettisoning is somewhat surprising in that it leaves Jacksonville thin on the defensive front, with the starting right end job very much unsettled. Paul Spicer has taken over for Brackens at left end.

In three preseason games, Douglas had only four tackles and had four pressures but no sacks. Last season, his first in Jacksonville, he started all 16 games but registered only 31 tackles and 3½ sacks. Those were his poorest numbers since 1991, when Douglas played in only four games because of knee and biceps injuries.

When the Jags outbid at least three other franchises last summer to sign Douglas, then an unrestricted free agent, it was hailed as a major addition. Douglas, who turned 33 last week, was viewed as not only a standout pass rusher but also a veteran presence in the locker room. But he slumped badly, acknowledging that he did not accept the city or its football fans very well, and allowed that he spent the year in a deep "funk."

Douglas had vowed in camp to make amends, and return to his previous Pro Bowl form, but he demonstrated very little improvement over his performance of 2003.

"In Hugh's case, we just decided it was time to move on," coach Jack Del Rio told reporters at the team's practice facility in Jacksonville, Fla. "Hugh was playing the run very well, we just felt we needed more from the pass rush."

By Monday afternoon, four teams -- the Redskins, Eagles, Bears and Giants -- had already indicated interest in Douglas. Agent Drew Rosenhaus said he hoped to have his client signed to a new team by the end of the week.

He spent five seasons with Philadelphia, after playing his first three years with the New York Jets, and was a popular player with teammates and fans.

Last summer, the Jaguars signed Douglas to a five-year contract that included a signing bonus of $6 million, and they expected him, realistically, to play three seasons. No one could have predicted his Jacksonville tenure would last one season.

The team will realize a significant cap savings for 2004 but will take a pretty big hit on its '05 limit. Douglas was due a base salary of $3.345 million this season, and all of it will be saved. Douglas will count $3.6 million against the team's 2005 cap.

In addition to Douglas, the Jags released quarterback Doug Johnson, wide receiver Jimmy Redmond and running back Frank Moreau. Rookie linebacker Jorge Cordova, a third-round pick who last week suffered a season-ending knee injury, will be placed on the injured reserve list.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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