JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Marcedes Lewis didn’t want to go anywhere.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Julius Thomas in free agency and made him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end, Lewis didn’t ask to be traded or released. He wanted to remain with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2006.
That’s why he was amenable to reworking the final year of his contact to make it much more salary cap-friendly.
"No question," Lewis said. "It’s not always greener on the other side, you know what I mean?
"I’ve got a tight ends coach that respects me and respects what I do, and I love him and I’m going to continue to go out there and work and give all that I’ve got."
Lewis was scheduled to have a base salary of $6.65 million and a salary-cap figure of $8.2 million in 2015, but his restructuring has lowered those numbers to $2 million and $3.85 million, respectively. Despite losing more than $4 million in base salary, Lewis said it wasn’t as tough a decision as many would think.
He also said he was never given an ultimatum to restructure his deal or be released
"I’ve been blessed," he said. "It was unfortunate I had some injuries the last couple years. I’d get off to good starts and some injuries to kind of hold me back. I understand [the team asking him to restructure his contract] from a business standpoint. I’m a businessman myself, so I get it. I’m just ready to work hard, stay healthy, do what I’ve got to do and help this team do some good things."
Lewis is the Jaguars’ all-time leader among tight ends in receptions (315), receiving yards (3,789) and receiving touchdowns (27), but now he’s clearly the team’s No. 2 tight end behind Thomas, who had 108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons. Lewis is still going to be a significant part of the offense because new offensive coordinator Greg Olson likes to use multiple-tight-end formations.
Head coach Gus Bradley said he never worried Lewis would have a problem with Thomas’ signing and adjusting to a new role.
"He’s been great, but he’s been like that," Bradley said. "Whatever we ask of him, whatever we challenge him with, he’s done. He's been a great teammate. He was voted captain last year, so the team thinks that way of him. I don’t take it for granted, but I’m not surprised either."
What made the transition easier to handle was the way Thomas approached the situation. Both players are represented by the same marketing company, and they met in Los Angeles shortly after Thomas signed with the Jaguars. Thomas told Lewis he was looking forward to playing with him.
"We were able to bump into each other and I told him, ‘I don’t know what the organization’s plan is, but I would really like to play with you. I have great respect for what you’ve done in this league,’" Thomas said. "It’s not easy to play a long time in the NFL. I have definitely seen some things that he does really well. I told him I think we could be really tough to defend out there on the field at the same time. He felt the same way, and we’re very excited for some of the different things we’ll be able to do offensively with two tight ends like us."
It’s still early in the offensive installation, but both players are eager to find out how they’ll be used together.
"Wherever they see fit, that’s what I’ll be doing," Lewis said. "It’s still early. When we get pads on, then we’ll kind of figure it out."