Former Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye signed a five-year, $67.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
The Jaguars announced the signing Friday morning:
Bouye, 25, registered 63 tackles, a sack and an interception for Houston in 2016. He established himself as an excellent corner this past season and has the ability to either play outside or in the slot. Plus, the 6-foot, 190-pounder has good size for the position.
As Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus wrote, Bouye emerged as an excellent option at the position:
Coming into this season, Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye had played 856 snaps of mostly average defense in his NFL career, with a majority of those coming back in 2014. In 2016, however, injuries in Houston put him on the field for 790 snaps, during which he has been one of the league's best cover corners. Bouye allowed just 54.5 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught this season for only 9.8 yards per reception; he picked off only one pass, but broke up 11 more, and surrendered a passer rating of 73.1 when targeted.
It's a bit surprising that Bouye ultimately left the team, however. After the season, he expressed a desire to stay in Houston, as he told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle in January:
I would like to be back. It'll mean a lot because it'll show that they wanted me and saw what I did this year and there are better things that are going to happen in the future from an individual and team standpoint. I've been through a lot here with the organization, a lot of ups and downs, and they never gave up on me. I'm appreciative of that.
But Houston either deemed Bouye expendable—the team does have Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson at the position—or simply didn't want to match the type of money that he was ultimately able to get in free agency.
There will be questions about Bouye's signing, however. After one excellent season, was signing him to a lucrative contract the smartest gamble? Can he replicate his success in a new defensive scheme? Will opposing teams approach throwing against him differently now that teams are more aware of his ability?
Bouye will need to provide positive answers to those queries. The Jaguars have spent substantial money on the gamble that Bouye's 2016 season was his new norm and not an exception.
Bouye's decision to jump ship and join an AFC rival is good news for the Jaguars, who just improved upon the league's No. 5 pass defense. The Jaguars now have arguably the top young cornerback pairing in the league, as Jalen Ramsey was fantastic in his rookie season, and also added excellent defensive end Calais Campbell in free agency, per the NFL on ESPN.
Suffice it to say, Jacksonville's defense should take a major step forward in 2017.