JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Jaguars have been active on the first day of free agency making two notable moves, the most notable coming in a late afternoon trade that sends former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a 2014 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional 2015 pick. The team also addressed a gaping hole along the interior of the offensive line as Denver offensive guard Zane Beadles and the team have agreed to terms on a five-year, $30 million deal.
Gabbert, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, was the opening day starter for the Jaguars in 2012 and 2013. He also started 14 games his rookie season, taking over the starting role in Week 3. However, after struggling to move the offense and dealing with a number of injuries, Gabbert lost his starting spot to Chad Henne, who signed a new two-year contract Monday with the Jaguars.
“This is something that kind of came about. We have a good relationship with San Francisco and it was a good opportunity for the Jacksonville Jaguars to increase our stock in the draft but it was also a good opportunity for Blaine to get a fresh start out there in San Francisco,” Jaguars general manager David Caldwell told members of the media late Tuesday in a conference call. “I know they're excited about having him, and I think it’s a good move for all parties involved.”
In his three years with the team, Gabbert appeared in 28 games starting 27. He completed 414 of his 777 pass attempts (53.2 percent) for 4,357 yards, 22 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He also was sacked 74 times and had a quarterback rating of just 66.4.
The trade gives the Jaguars 11 picks in May’s NFL Draft, something that goes along with Caldwell’s philosophy of stockpiling draft picks.
“Obviously we’d like as many draft picks as we can,” Caldwell said. “This is a good draft. We feel like it’s a deep draft at a lot of positions. I think we can find 11 spots. If not, it gives you some flexibility to trade up if you want trade up and target a player. It gives you some flexibly if you want to trade back and pick up some picks for 2013.”
Gabbert is expected to backup Colin Kaepernick, who is the starting quarterback currently in San Francisco.
The addition of Beadles, who has agreed to terms but is expected to sign after a physical Wednesday morning, addresses a major need the Jaguars had heading into the offseason. The release of guard Uche Nwaneri a week ago, made it clear the Jaguars would target an interior lineman early in free agency.
A second-round pick (No. 45 overall) in 2010, Beadles appeared in 70 games for the Denver Broncos (64 regular season, six playoff), starting all but two. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2012 and helped the Broncos to an AFC Championship in 2013. He is expected to start at left guard for the Jaguars.
“This is a guy that’s played left guard, he played tackle in college, he has some flexibility,” Caldwell said. “We’ll put him a left guard next to Luke (Joeckel). He’s very intelligent. He’s very competitive. He’s very smart. We did a lot of work on him in Atlanta coming (out of college). He’s had a heck of a career to date… He’s a guy with a proven track record. He’s only 27-years-old. He’s passionate about football and I think he checks the box for everything we look for in a player.”
Additionally the Jaguars are bringing a number of other free agents in for visits. Tampa Bay linebacker Dekoda Watson is visiting with the team Tuesday night and there are reports that Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond and Detroit defensive end Willie Young are also expected to make visits to Jacksonville.
Lastly, Caldwell also announced the re-signing of cornerback Will Blackmon who joined the team during the 2013 season after the Jaguars claimed him off waivers from Seattle.