Knight bolsters Jaguars' young defensive backfield

Updated: August 13, 2007, 2:06 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Sammy Knight, a 10-year veteran and one-time Pro Bowl safety who ranks third in interceptions among active players, has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Knight was released by the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the spring.

The deal is worth $820,000 this year, according to ESPN.com's John Clayton.

Knight, 31, drew considerable interest from other teams after his release, but opted to wait for what he considered to be the right situation. With the Jaguars, he figures to be the No. 3 safety once he plays himself into shape and assimilates the defense. The Jaguars expect him to be a mentor for the team's young players at the position.

Jacksonville lost both starting safeties from last year, with free safety Deon Grant signing with Seattle as an unrestricted free agent and strong safety Donovin Darius released. Darius subsequently signed with the Oakland Raiders.

The new strong safety is third-year veteran Gerald Sensabaugh. Rookie Reggie Nelson, the Jaguars' first-round pick, is the starter at free safety. Jacksonville personnel officials have been seeking to add a veteran safety to the mix and Knight is a good fit for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

One of the league's top ballhawks in his prime, Knight has slowed slightly but remained productive in 2006. In 16 games last season, all starts, Knight posted 83 tackles, two sacks, one interception and three passes defended.

Knight was scheduled to have a base salary of $2 million in 2007, but he and the Chiefs could not come to an agreement that met their mutual needs, so he was released.

In 10 seasons, Knight has 939 tackles, 38 interceptions, 43 passes defended, nine sacks, 12 forced fumbles and 13 fumble recoveries. He has appeared in 158 games.

Originally signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent from Southern California in 1997, Knight began his career as a special teams player, but he quickly emerged as one of the NFL's premier playmakers at safety.

Knight has registered five or more interceptions in five different seasons. He has four interception returns for touchdowns.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton is included in this report.