JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ( Associated Press) — No. 1 draft pick Travon Walker agreed to a four-year, $37.4 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, including a $24.4 million signing bonus. sign.
Walker’s deal will be fully guaranteed and includes a fifth-year team option. Conditions are standard for first-round picks.
The team expects Walker to sign the deal this day, one day before the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp begins.
He is the 10th first-round pick in the 2022 draft who is under contract, including four of the top six. Walker’s deal will count $6.8 million against the team’s salary cap this fall
The Georgia linebacker rose in the stats after an impressive combine and made it to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars chose the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Georgia native over Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson, who set a school record of 14 sacks in 2021 and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting.
The team later added two more inside linebackers: Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma, hoping to improve a defense that finished 20th in the league in yards allowed in 2021 and allowed 27 points per game.
Picking Walker No. 1 wasn’t nearly as popular a decision as quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s last year. Critics of him argued that Hutchinson is more polished and pointed to Walker’s limited numbers in college. He had 9 1/2 sacks in three years in Athens, including six in his final season to win the championship.
But Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke and coach Doug Pederson saw a more versatile player in Walker, who played defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker on Georgia’s acclaimed defense. His highlights included more than sacks: He stopped running backs, knocked down speedy receivers in the open field and deflected passes that led to interceptions.
He started off as a backup for two years with the Bulldogs, but became a starter in his third year. He started 15 games in 2021 and finished with 37 tackles, including 7 1/2 for loss of yards and two interceptions.
The Jaguars intend to move slowly with Walker, allowing him to learn outside linebacker before trying other positions on defense.