Updates from Monday, March 24
The Jacksonville Jaguars continued to bolster their offense by signing free-agent running back Toby Gerhart to a three-year contract on Tuesday.
ESPN insider Adam Schefter reported the news, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport provided the details of the new deal:
The Jaguars confirmed the deal on Wednesday (via Tad Dickman of the Jaguars):
Gerhart was a second-round pick in 2010 out of Stanford but was stuck behind superstar Adrian Peterson in four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Now there is a fresh opportunity for the 26-year-old to shine as the featured back in Jacksonville.
As reported by Jaguars.com's John Oehser, the team also acquired free-agent left guard Zane Beadles, who last played for the Denver Broncos. Beadles is a physical blocker who should give Jacksonville some attitude and swagger up front and complement Gerhart's bruising style nicely.
General manager David Caldwell remarked on Beadles' signing, per the Jags' official Twitter account:
This move to sign Gerhart all but guarantees that Pro Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew won't return to the Jags' backfield, as Caldwell continues to retool the roster in an effort to make the maligned franchise competitive again. It was a savvy move to secure Gerhart at a price that doesn't break the bank but still gives the young player reassurance that he'll be well compensated.
Head coach Gus Bradley is more of a defensive expert, but he has to like the hard-nosed attitude coming to the offensive side of the ball. Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk feels Gerhart will fit in well:
Being a second-stringer to Peterson may have been a blessing for Gerhart, not only from a learning standpoint, but also to eliminate some of the wear and tear he's likely to endure in the coming years.
The quarterback situation is still precarious in Jacksonville, and that has to be fixed above all else before the team can take a great leap forward. Whomever takes over under center will at least be able to hand off to the 231-pound Gerhart and watch him bowl over defenders, and it also helps that he is a capable receiver out of the backfield.
Caldwell and the front office hold the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft, presumed to be used on the QB of the future. The running back of the future has now arrived in Gerhart, though, so the Jags are continuing to make strides in a slow but promising rebuilding process.
It will be interesting to see how Gerhart performs in what should be a No. 1 role. He should be able to pass valuable wisdom along to his teammates and apply what he learned from Peterson to his fresh start. This is a big, career-altering move for Gerhart, but it remains to be seen if he'll live up to the hype.