Jaguars amplify pass-rush, sign Key to Contract

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Defensive Arden Key, coming off a career-best season, has signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The team announced the signing on Wednesday, but did not disclose financial terms.

The Jaguars’ biggest problem defensively is their lack of quality passes, and the addition of Key is a solid first step in the process. Key had the best year of his career in 2021 with the San Francisco 49ers (6.5 sacks) while playing only 35% of the defensive snaps. However, he has only 9.5 sacks in 54 career games and had only three sacks in his first 37 games. Key gives the Jaguars an upgrade from K’Lavon Chaisson, the 20th overall pick of 2020, who has only two sacks in 31 career games, in the second outside linebacker spot against Josh Allen.

The Jaguars fired opposing quarterbacks 32 times last season – only eight teams had fewer. Opposite quarterbacks completed a league-high 64.9% of their passes, and the Jaguars intercepted only seven passes. Allen led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks and Dawuane Smoot had six last season.

The Jaguars have the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson is one of the players they are considering.

After three disappointing seasons with the Raiders, Key finally broke loose last season, his first with the San Francisco 49ers.

Key was signed as a free agent after the Raiders released him, and flourished under Niner’s defensive line coach Kris Kocurek in 2021.

San Francisco moved Key across the defensive line and he succeeded by speeding the ball from inside. The Keys 6.5 sacks were only number two on the team after Nick Bosa, who had 15.5.

Key, 25, added 22 tackles, five tackles for losses and 17 quarterback hits. He was originally a third round of the Raiders in 2018.

ESPN’s Michael DiRocco and Nick Wagoner contributed to this report.

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