Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Welcome 1, Release 3; Hayward in; Washington, Edwards, Bolden Out

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Welcome 1, Release 3; Hayward in; Washington, Edwards, Bolden Out

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO, The Times-Union

On a day of transition for the Jaguars, they welcomed their newest veteran free agent -- defensive end Reggie Hayward -- and released three veterans they signed the past two seasons.

Cornerbacks Dewayne Washington and Juran Bolden, who were signed last year and were due roster bonuses later this month, and fullback Marc Edwards, who was signed two years ago, were released.

The arrival of Hayward plugged a hole at defensive end while the departure of Washington and Bolden opens up a hole at cornerback and puts a priority on the Jaguars finding a cornerback in free agency or selecting one on the first round of the draft.

Cutting the three veterans also saved them $3.5 million under the cap, including a $500,000 roster bonus for Bolden and a $200,000 roster bonus for Washington.

At a news conference Thursday, coach Jack Del Rio hailed the arrival of Hayward, who signed a five-year $25 million deal with $10 million guaranteed, by saying he'll "help take our defense to another level."

But since Hayward, who'll turn 26 on March 14, is a young player who started only 19 of 47 games his first four years in Denver and didn't start the opener last year, Del Rio didn't want to build expectations up too high too soon.

"We're not looking for Reggie to come in here and be our savior. We're looking for him to come in here and play a role, to be a good football player on a good football team," Del Rio said.

The Jaguars believe Hayward is likely to be a player who'll get better with more experience.

"He's an ascending player, a young player who has had tremendous production for the last two seasons. We believe his best football is still ahead of him," Del Rio said.

After being benched for the opener last year by the Denver Broncos, he started the second game in Jacksonville -- a 7-6 Jaguars victory on Sept. 19 -- and got a sack on the first play. For the season he wound up with 10.5 sacks. Still, three of those sacks were on a Christmas night game in Tennessee against backup quarterback Billy Volek. He had 7.5 sacks the other 15 games.

Hayward said he was motivated when he lost the starting job in training camp last year.

"Sometimes a coach does something to motivate you. Maybe it's something a young player needed. It definitely motivated me to get everything in gear and get out there on the field and make plays. This is a place I need to be. They need someone to rush the passer and make big plays and I think I fill that void," Hayward said.

The Denver coaches last year described him a player who was inconsistent at times and lacked focus and motivation.

However, Hayward said, "I think I'm overcoming that. Last year was a breakout season for me. This is a chance for me to put that behind me and go forward in a new direction. …

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