Tyson Alualu backs out of deal with Jaguars to re-sign with Steelers
After earlier agreement, lineman opts against Jaguars reunion
Veteran defensive end Tyson Alualu has had a change of heart on returning to play for the Jaguars despite agreeing to a two-year, $6 million free-agent deal just more than a week ago.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Alualu backed out of the deal with the Jaguars to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a two-year contract.
Alualu, 33, spent his first seven seasons in the NFL with the Jaguars, who selected him as the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Alualu had planned to sign his contract with the Jaguars this past week but was unable to make the trip to Jacksonville after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the NFL Network. Having extra time to weigh his decision, he apparently decided remaining with the Steelers was a better option.
The Jaguars had plans to use Alualu as a key rotational player on their defensive front. Alualu, who has 24.5 career sacks, has spent the past four seasons with the Steelers.
The Jaguars could explore free agency to offset not having Alualu or they could wait to fill additional needs on the defensive front with next month's draft. Some mock drafts have the Jaguars selecting Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore with the 25th overall pick in the first round.
During free agency, the Jaguars made it a priority to upgrade their defensive front.
Among the 11 new players joining the Jaguars, three are defensive linemen. Defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris and nose tackle Malcom Brown, acquired in a trade from New Orleans, are expected to start right away.
In 89 career games with the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints, Brown has 247 tackles, 11.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries.
Also, defensive end Jihad Ward figures to be a significant contributor in the rotation. Ward, who had spent the past two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens before signing with the Jaguars in free agency, will join a group that already includes emerging third-year defensive end Josh Allen, tackle DaVon Hamilton, and end K'Lavon Chaisson.
The Jaguars also re-signed defensive ends Adam Gotsis and Dawuane Smoot, Gotsis started 14 of 16 games last season and Smoot has registered 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons and not having any during his first two seasons in the league.
''I expect the defensive line to be one of the strengths of our team,” Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said. ''I expected our defensive line in college to be in the top 5 in America. In the NFL, I told our staff I expect to be in the top fourth—we should keep elevating that. I believe we’re going to be in the top 4 in the league on that defensive line.”