Jaguars Notebook: Calais Campbell ready to provide leadership

New Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell (third from right) poses for photographs with his family during his introductory press conference Friday afternoon at EverBank Field. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union)

A longtime captain for the Arizona Cardinals, Calais Campbell wants to become an immediate leader for the Jaguars.


“It comes natural to me,” Campbell said Friday after signing his four-year, $60 million contract. “I try to lead by example, first and foremost, but I have no problem stepping in and being a vocal leader and trying to motivate guys.

“I’ve done it my whole career, especially the last few years. I took pride in being a captain.”

The leadership part of Campbell’s arrival is a bonus for the Jaguars, but when the new regime talks about developing more toughness, that also means a greater level of locker room accountability. Enter Campbell, who has played 138 of a possible 144 games in his career.

Strong safety Barry Church will also bring leadership to a Jaguars defense that could have three second-year starters in defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, middle linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

“I was in Dallas for seven years and when I was taking my opportunity to look around at teams in free agency, I went down the roster in Jacksonville and saw how much talent they had at such a young age,” Church said. “Just coming in here, I want to put my veteran leadership to work and hopefully we can get this team going in the right direction.”

Albert feels wanted

According to a league source, the Jaguars did not adjust new left tackle Branden Albert’s contract via more years or more guaranteed money. That would leave two years left on his contract and he will count $8.9 million against the salary cap.

The Jaguars were proactive in acquiring Albert in a trade instead of waiting for him to hit free agency.

Albert prefaced his comment by saying he didn’t want to sound cocky, but … “I would have probably been one of the best free-agent left tackles out there,” he said. “They said, ‘We want you. Let’s make a trade.’ ”

The Jaguars traded a 2018 seventh-round pick to Miami for Albert; the Dolphins traded a seventh-round pick this year to the Jaguars for tight end Julius Thomas.

The rationale for separate trades?

“There was a chance of them not being able to get something done with Julius and I didn’t want that to affect our trade for Branden,” general manager Dave Caldwell said.

Homecoming a bonus

Even though he is a native of Gainesville and played at Florida, defensive end/linebacker Lerentee McCray wasn’t looking for a homecoming. But the Jaguars called and he signed a one-year contract.

McCray, who was previously with Denver, Green Bay and Buffalo, didn’t make it a priority to sign with a home-state team.

“The biggest thing for me was finding a team that believes in me,” he said. “It wasn’t staying close to home – that didn’t matter at all.”

Said Caldwell: “He’s a very good special teamer and that’s his main objective right now. We also have some hope for him to go rush the passer, too. He’s got some pass-rush skills.”

McCray has 1 1/2 sacks in 37 career games.

No offer to Cyprien

Caldwell said the Jaguars did not offer strong safety Johnathan Cyprien a contract before they moved on to Church and Cyprien moved on to Tennessee.

The Jaguars are changing the way they use their safeties – they want a strong safety that can play free, too – and that’s not Cyprien’s game.

Titans general manager Jon Robinson told reporters of Cyprien: “I was a big fan of his back when he came out of Florida International. He’s an aggressive hitter and strong in coverage. He’s an instinctive player, good blitzer and heavy hitter.”


Now-former Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara, who the team didn’t make an big effort to re-sign, agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal with the Chicago Bears. Amukamara, who played on one-year deal for the Jaguars, was hoping for a multi-year contract but that market never developed. … The jersey numbers for the new guys – 21 (cornerback A.J. Bouye), 42 (Church), 76 (Albert) and 93 (Campbell). McCray doesn’t have a number assigned to him yet. … Speaking of No. 93, that’s been property of defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, but he’s a free agent. Asked if Alualu is still a possibility, Caldwell said: “[We’re] just going to explore the market and see where we’re at.” … Church on his prediction for former teammate Tony Romo’s destination: “My best bet is Houston. Should be a good fit. And we’ll get to play them twice a year.” … Offensive tackle/guard Luke Joeckel was pursued by several teams before agreeing to join Seattle with a one-year deal. “I had people come up to me at the Combine saying, ‘Why are you guys not re-signing him?’ We tried to,” Caldwell said.