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Jags defense gets a lift with Douglas

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 16, 2003

JACKSONVILLE -- Hugh Douglas was looking for a team, and the Jaguars wanted impact players.

The result was the five-year, $27-million contract the former Eagles pass rusher signed Saturday with the Jags, who have their salary cap in order and have been one of the most active teams in free agency.

One of the most coveted players in this year's free-agent class, Douglas joins former Colts linebacker Mike Peterson, who signed a $20-million deal Thursday. The team also signed Texans linebacker Keith Mitchell to a low-price contract, as new coach Jack Del Rio attempts to upgrade speed and talent and make Jacksonville competitive again.

"I'm excited. This is a young up-and-coming defense," Douglas said. "It reminds me of when Andy Reid came to Philadelphia, the concept of building a good, young team and making a run for the playoffs."

Unlike their early years, when the Jaguars signed big deals without much regard for the cap, Douglas' contract won't put a major squeeze on Jacksonville.

It includes a $6-million signing bonus, and the base salary shoots from $3.3-million to $5-million after two seasons, meaning the contract will have to be reworked before 2005 if the Jags want to keep him.

Douglas has 73 1/2 sacks in eight seasons. Last season his 12 1/2 sacks allowed him, by terms of his contract, to test the market.

It looked as though he wanted to stay in Philadelphia. But after negotiations with the Eagles, Seahawks, Chiefs and Giants never took off, Jacksonville called.

CARDINALS: Defensive tackle Russell Davis re-signed, getting a three-year deal. Davis started 41 of 42 games since being claimed off waivers from Chicago in 2000.

COLTS: Punter Hunter Smith re-signed. His 40.5-yard average last season ranked 27th in the league, more than 5 yards behind leader Todd Sauerbrun of the Panthers. The Indianapolis Star reported the deal is for six years and $4.8-million.

FALCONS: Free-agent cornerback Tyrone Williams agreed to a five-year contract. Terms were not released. Williams, who has spent his seven-year career with the Packers, fills a void created when Ashley Ambrose was released.

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