JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After bungling free agency last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars vowed to revamp their aging roster through the draft.

They made an exception for three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tra Thomas.

Thomas signed a three-year contract with the Jaguars on Monday, filling the team’s most glaring need and moving considerably closer to home.

The 34-year-old Thomas, who allowed just two sacks in 658 attempts last season, is expected to step into a starting role in place of free agent Khalif Barnes and provide leadership on a team that finished 5-11 last season and then parted ways with three captains.

“Hopefully I’m one of the key positions that’s going to come in and help turn this team around,” Thomas said.

The 6-foot-7, 317-pound linemen was a mainstay the last 11 years in Philadelphia. The 11th overall pick in 1998, Thomas started 165 games and has missed only eight games in his career. The Eagles had hoped to re-sign him, but Thomas chose Jacksonville partly because it was closer to home in nearby DeLand.

“I have several years left in the tank,” Thomas said. “I take good care of myself. I’m always in the weight room training. … I put in a goal to play 20 years, so I want to come in and play as long as I possibly can. I feel like if I continue to take care of myself it can definitely happen.”

The Jaguars parted ways with running back Fred Taylor, defensive end Paul Spicer and linebacker Mike Peterson, all captains, and released receiver Jerry Porter and cornerback Drayton Florence

Packers sign former Steelers safety Smith

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers signed safety Anthony Smith on Monday, their first free-agent deal of the offseason.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Smith spent his first three seasons in Pittsburgh and has four interceptions in 46 games. Several media outlets reported the Packers agreed to terms with Smith last week, but the team didn’t announce the deal until Monday. New Packers secondary coach Darren Perry was Smith’s defensive backs coach in 2006, and Smith’s experience playing in a 3-4 defensive alignment will come in handy as the Packers change their 4-3 defensive scheme going into next season.

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