JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After parting ways with starting linebackers Justin Durant and Kirk Morrison and failing to find replacements in the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars had no choice but to address the position during free agency.
They couldn't miss, either.
So the Jaguars targeted former Buffalo Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny and landed him early in free agency. Jacksonville and Posluszny agreed to a six-year contract worth $45 million Tuesday night, including $15 million guaranteed.
"Jacksonville was very aggressive from the start," Posluszny told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "They showed a lot of interest. They have a lot of confidence in me, and I don't want to let them down."
The Jaguars have high expectations for the player nicknamed "Poz."
Coach Jack Del Rio's defense was near the bottom of the league in just about every category last season, ranking 28th in total defense and surrendering the most points (419) in franchise history.
Posluszny should help turn things around, although the Jaguars would like to add another linebacker and two safeties during free agency.
"I want to be the leader of the defense," he said. "That's the plan. But you just don't walk in and do it. It doesn't work that way. You have to earn the respect of your coaches and your teammates. You have to work at it. You have to build relationships and trust, and go from there."
Posluszny had 398 tackles in four years with the Bills despite missing 19 games because of injuries. He will replace Morrison, who failed to impress coaches and front office personnel in his one season in Jacksonville.
"Going against him a bunch, he's a great player, very physical, smart guy, definitely a guy we can plug in the middle and make some plays," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said.
Posluszny said the team's 4-3 defense drew him to Jacksonville, especially with the Bills employing more of a hybrid scheme. He feels most comfortable in the 4-3 and has played his best in that formation.
"That was a huge part of this decision for me," he said. "I wanted to get back to a 4-3."
Getting up to speed with Jacksonville's playbook and terminology in just a few weeks could be a huge challenge, especially after the lockout wiped out organized team activities.
"I'm definitely going to have a lot of work to do and a lot of catching up to do," Posluszny said.
He said he was impressed with Jaguars general manager Gene Smith and linebackers coach Mark Duffner. He also said he has a close relationship with strength and conditioning coordinator Luke Richesson, who trained the former Penn State standout before the 2007 NFL combine.
Posluszny scrolled through Jacksonville's roster Wednesday and struggled to find anyone else he knows. So when he arrives Friday for the second day of training camp, he could spend as much time learning names as he does plays.
"There's going to be a lot of new faces for me," Posluszny said. "Luke is really the only guy I know right now."