Former Gators reap free-agent benefits in NFL

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Jon Bostic, Antonio Morrison, Lerentee McCray
In this file photo, Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jon Bostic (57), inside linebacker Antonio Morrison (44) and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Lerentee McCray (55) do the Gator Chomp on the field after a game. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Special to The Sun

Several former Florida football players moved on to new teams after signing free-agent contracts over the past few days.

On Monday, inside linebacker Jon Bostic signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

The 26-year-old Bostic,a second-round draft pick from the University of Florida for the Chicago Bears in 2013, played 14 games for Indianapolis last season, getting 97 tackles and one sack. Bostic injured his right knee against Denver in December and finished the season on injured reserve. Pittsburgh is Bostic’s fifth stop.

He played two seasons in Chicago then one in New England before the Patriots traded him to Detroit in 2016. He missed the entire season in Detroit with a foot injury before joining the Colts.

The Steelers are in need of depth at inside linebacker with Ryan Shazier already ruled out for 2018 because of a spinal injury suffered in Cincinnati in December.

“I would never say ‘replace,’” Bostic said Monday. “He’s a special player, and I’m sure he’s definitely going to be back at some point. For me, like I said, all I’m supposed to do is come in here and work hard. Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to do it at whatever position it is.”

Veteran center Mike Pouncey, a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Miami Dolphins, agreed to a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday.

Pouncey was released by Miami last week after he refused a pay cut. He started all 16 games for the Dolphins last season, his seventh in the NFL.

The Chargers swooped in to grab a new center and powerful run blocker for what’s likely to be an impressive offensive line.

Pouncey joins another new Chargers addition with a UF resume in kicker Caleb Sturgis, who signed a two-year deal Friday. Sturgis spent the past three seasons with Philadelphia, but he missed the Eagles’ Super Bowl championship run. After winning the starting job, he injured his hip in the regular season opener and went on injured reserve.

The UF product spent his first two NFL seasons with Miami. He was outstanding for the Eagles in 2016, hitting 35 of his 41 field goal attempts. The Chargers used four kickers last season while finishing last in the NFL in percentage of field goals made (66.7).

Also Monday, veteran linebacker Lerentee McCray returned to the Jacksonville Jaguars. McCray had been an unrestricted free agent after signing a one-year deal with Jacksonville in 2017.

McCray says he’s “been waiting to find a home and I’m excited to be back here and finish the unfinished business that we left last year.”

The 6-foot-3, 249-pound McCray recorded a career-high nine special teams tackles in 13 games last season. He previously spent time with Buffalo and Green Bay after signing as an undrafted rookie with Denver in 2013.

McCray has played in 50 games over five seasons, notching 28 tackles and three sacks.

McCray won a Super Bowl in 2015 with the Broncos and was a key member of special teams, where he played for current Jaguars special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.

Defensive end Dominique Easley re-signed with the Los Angeles Rams after an injury kept him out last season. It’s a one-year deal.

Easley tore a ligament in his right knee early in Rams training camp last August, sidelining him for the season. The UF product also tore ligaments in both knees during college.

His first two NFL seasons with New England ended early due to injury after the Patriots chose him in the first round. But he was healthy during the 2016 season with the Rams, making 3 ½ sacks and likely earning a spot as a starter last year before his injury.