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Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars strike 5-year deal

The Jaguars have hooked a big fish in free agency.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that tight end Julius Thomas is getting a five-year deal worth an average of $9.2 million each season with $24 million guaranteed.

Thomas spent his first four NFL seasons with the Broncos, growing into one of Peyton Manning's most reliable targets in the back end of his Denver run. Thomas had 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons, turning into one of the NFL's best red zone threats, seemingly overnight. He immediately gives the Jaguars a proven offensive threat for second-year quarterback Blake Bortles.

Thomas, 26, has been consistently linked to the Jaguars for some time. The Raiders and Seahawks both made aggressive plays for Thomas, according to Rapoport. The Broncos attempted to retain the tight end, though they were financially strapped after using their franchise tag on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Faced with a decision, Denver chose the right Thomas to keep in the building. Still, this is an important signing by a Jaguars team that's lost 11 games or more for four straight seasons.

The Jags -- who also have deals in place with defensive lineman Jared Odrick and offensive tackle Jermey Parnell -- believed in Bortles enough to take him with the third overall pick last year. Importing a playmaker of Thomas' ilk can only boost the young passer's development.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast analyzes early free agency news, including Ndamukong Suh to Miami, Devin McCourty's new deal and much more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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