While a flurry of NFL free-agent signings have been grabbing major headlines, one of the lesser-publicized transactions on Saturday might end up becoming one of the better signings of the 2010 offseason.

The Jacksonville Jaguars landed special teams standout Kassim Osgood with a three-year, $6.675 million deal plus incentives. Osgood has yearned to get a chance to play wide receiver and the Jaguars told him they would give him a shot at cracking their receiver rotation.

That’s all Osgood needed to hear and he wasted no time encouraging agent Drew Rosenhaus to hammer out a deal with the Jaguars.

Osgood’s departure leaves a major, major hole for the San Diego Chargers to fill. The Chargers have excelled in the field-position game in recent years and a big part of that was due to Osgood’s abilities as a gunner on punt coverage and his outstanding work on kickoff return coverage.

The Chargers determined long ago that Osgood has little to no value as a receiver but here’s one thing not up for debate: Osgood is an elite special teams performer. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler as a special teamer and has an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time and making key plays.

Osgood has just 33 receptions in seven NFL seasons but did catch 108 passes as a college senior at San Diego State. Not to be overlooked is that former San Diego State defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer is an assistant on the Jaguars’ coaching staff. Kaumeyer was highly impressed with Osgood during their one season together with the Aztecs.

The knock on Osgood is that he doesn’t have NFL-caliber hands and he certainly has been prone to drops in his limited NFL opportunities. He also had some issues with the dropsies during his one season at San Diego State. I covered the Aztecs during the 2002 campaign in which Osgood and J.R. Tolver were setting all kinds of school and college football receiving records and I would estimate that Osgood probably dropped about 10 to 12 passes that season.

He caught 13 passes as a rookie with the Chargers and 15 the following season and then seldom served in a receiving role. His offseason repetitions were limited as neither coach Norv Turner nor general manager A.J. Smith had respect for his receiving skills.

So Osgood has a whole offseason now where he can work on improving his hands and route-running. He does have an impressive 19.6-yard career average so it’s not like he hasn’t made some plays during his limited chances.

But know this – even if Osgood never catches a pass for the Jaguars, he will be an immensely valuable player. There are few special teams player in the entire league that rank up there with Osgood.

The Chargers have pushed a few former Pro Bowlers out the door this offseason. And while Osgood leaving doesn’t rank up there with LaDainian Tomlinson, Jamal Williams or Antonio Cromartie in terms of attention, his departure leaves a bigger hole.

Think of that – Kassim Osgood being mentioned as a bigger loss than LaDainian Tomlinson? Who would have thought that three short years ago?


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