It’s a “feel good” story for the Jaguars and their players. You can add anybody who ever overcame adversity to that list as well. Third-year wide receiver Allen Hurns, who made the team with his work ethic and performance as an undrafted free-agent signed a $40 million, 4-year contract with the team yesterday, rewarding him for his work and production.
“Obviously to have 1,000-plus yards and 10 touchdowns last year in his second year. He’s done it two years in a row,” General Manager Dave Caldwell said after practice on Friday, explaining why Hurns earned this top-10 deal. “Wasn’t just a one-year wonder and that’s another reason why we felt comfortable with it. Two years of production plus the type of person and character he is. It was the right decision on our part.”
With Hurns under contract, the attention can now turn to Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson, eligible to sign new deals next year. But Caldwell was having none of that.
“Really independent of Blake and A-Rob, I think this was about Allen and doing what was right for Allen and getting him done before the season started,” the Jaguars GM continued. And he stayed on the message when asked if it sends a signal to other players about performing well and getting paid.
“No, this is really about Allen and it was really what Allen deserved. He did everything right to get this done.”
While Head Coach Gus Bradley wasn’t in on the negotiations, he was obviously pleased that the Hurns deal is done.
“I thought it was great. What a great deal,” he said after practice on Friday “He’s exactly what we’re all about – his work ethic and how he comes in. we asked to be on a race to a maturity and handling himself more like a sixth-year veteran, he’s done that. He’s got the respect of the locker room, the coaching staff and then his production. All of that, I’m really excited for him.”
If the Jaguars have a model player who they think embodies the culture Bradley is trying to create, it’s Hurns.
“From the day we brought him in here to now,” Bradley continued. “I think every day that you’re with him, you’re not surprised that he’s reached this accomplishment just because of his work ethic.”
It’s easy to feel good for Hurns and the payoff for his accomplishments. He’s a straightforward, working player who has been humble from the beginning and plans on staying that way.
“No matter what, how much money I make, that doesn’t bring catches come this season,” Hurns said after practice. “I got to continue to put in the work and continue to show what I can do. So that’s what I love about it. No matter what you get or no matter what you did last year, you got to always prove yourself. That’s what I love about this league.”
When his agent Drew Rosenhaus came to town, Hurns wasn’t sure the deal would get done so quickly. But meetings with Caldwell and an update from his agent brought it together in a matter of hours. Still a bit nerve-racking for Hurns and his family, even waiting for the paperwork. But for a guy from small beginnings, the payoff was not only for him but for his mother, his grandmother and his brother as well.
“My mom was crying. She started crying instantly. My grandma, she said how proud she is of me, just what I went through and I never complained about anything. Same with my brother. Those are the people that are always with me and they’ll tell me things for what it is. I can have a good day or a bad day, they’re going to tell me what to do.” But if you’ve ever been on a team, you know nothing is off-limits when it comes to giving each other a hard time. A big contract extension is the perfect subject to catch grief from your teammates. Consequently, Hurns wasn’t spared from his share of ribbing, especially from other players on offense.
“Nonstop. The guy who gave me the most problem was Julius Thomas, like he wasn’t paid.,” Hurns said with a laugh recalling the free agent contract Thomas signed last year with the Jaguars. “But at the end of the day it’s all love. That’s the good thing about it. It’s all genuine, there’s no jealousy so that’s what I love about it.”
In the last two years if you talked to Wide Receivers Coach Jerry Sullivan he singled out Hurns as one of his favorites. “I love that guy,” he said to me more than once. The admiration is mutual, with Hurns giving Sullivan credit for making him a better player. He also pointed out how Sullivan has helped him along in non-football ways, going to him as a mentor for off the field questions. Still, it is a football team so it’s no surprise that Sullivan was happy for Hurns, and showed it by giving him the customary hard time.
“A little bit. A little bit,” Allen explained. “He gave me crap about me always wearing my Miami book bag. He said I’ll be getting one of those Gucci book bags or something like that.”