Jaguars veteran defensive end Jason Babin calls himself an “emotionally free’’ person.


So when the Jaguars wanted him to take a pay cut this year, he didn’t let his emotions get involved in his decision.

He made a business decision that was best for him and his family and took a pay cut to remain a Jaguar.

He said there were two factors in his decision.

“The first thing is I enjoy being here, working here. I’ve never been around a coach like Gus [Bradley] so that opportunity was important to me,’’ he said

“The second thing is simple. It’s a free market and you’re only worth what somebody is willing to pay you. No matter how you feel about your abilities, that’s the cold hard fact.’’

Babin said he talked to other teams about some “rough numbers,’’ which were in the same ballpark.

And Babin didn’t want to uproot his family again, particularly since his two older boys, Maddux, who’s almost 9, and Talan, who just turned 7, have friends here.

So Babin, who was due to make $6.175 million a year in the last two years of his old contract he signed with Philadelphia in 2011, took a cut to three years at $8.275 million, with just $500,000 guaranteed.

Veterans taking pay cuts is not unusual these days, even though the new collective bargaining agreement was supposed to help veteran players because it sliced rookie salaries.

Babin said it had the opposite effect because more college juniors come out knowing they need to get four years of playing time before they get a big contract. And they give the owners a supply of younger players who are cheaper than veterans.

“It’s simple economics. I’ve got this young guy with a big upswing at one price and this guy who’s older at another price,’’ he said.

He said the new deal was a victory for the owners.

“They got us,’’ he said.

The economics, though, haven’t dulled Babin’s enthusiasm for the game even though he turns 34 next month, heading into his 11th year.

He already is involved in business interests that will keep him busy when his career is over, including a development company and a cattle ranch in Texas, but he isn’t ready to give up the game.

“I like to play football,’’ he said. “It’s a way for me to express myself. In a way, it’s a gladiator sport. Something in me enjoys letting that beast, if you will, out.’’

He’s also not ready to give up his starting job, even though the Jaguars signed Chris Clemons from Seattle at $17.5 million for four years.

“If you’re in the NFL and you’re afraid of competition, you should pack up your stuff and go home. I’m fully confident of my ability. The best man plays,’’ he said.

He noted there are now three Leos (pass rushers) competing for a starting role now that Clemons has joined Babin and Andre Branch in the mix. He believes all three will play.

“There’s going to be enough meat for everybody,’’ he said. “Nobody is going to go hungry.’’

The Jaguars could add another pass rusher on the first round if they draft Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack and Babin feels Mack is a better fit in the Jaguars defense.

“That’s the guy I like,’’ Babin said of Mack. “If they’re going to find my replacement, that’s him. I like the way the guy plays.’’

Babin led the team with 7.5 sacks last year. He said his goal this season is double digits.


Vito Stellino (904) 359-4279