Free agent deal keeps former Titan in the AFC South

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:10pm

Sen’Derrick Marks could have made a lasting impression on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ decision-makers. Except that the coach and general manager were fired almost immediately after the 2012 season ended.

Not to worry. Their new coach, Gus Bradley, made an immediate impression on the veteran defensive tackle, enough that he signed a one-year contract with Jacksonville on Tuesday.

“Talking with Coach Bradley was so much deeper than just the topic of football,” Marks said, according to the team’s website. “I really wanted to play for a guy like that, and really wanted to get to know a guy like that more in depth.”

Marks, 26, tied his career-high with seven tackles back on Dec. 30 in what turned out to be his final game with the Tennessee Titans. That game was against the Jaguars and capped a season in which he set career-highs with 63 tackles (31 solo) and one and a half sacks. He also forced one fumble for the third straight year.

A second-round draft pick (No. 62 overall) by Tennessee in 2009, he became a free agent last month when the contract he signed as a rookie expired. He played 51 games and started 26 in four seasons.

Any chance the Titans might re-sign him early in free agency when they agreed to terms with Sammie Hill, who at 6-foot-4, 329 pounds, is two inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than Marks.

For two seasons Tennessee’s defensive coaches have expressed a desire to get bigger along the defensive front. That thinking ultimately forced Marks to change his mindset.

“It was kind of awkward and kind of different because it was in the division,” Marks said. “Jacksonville was a team I was trained basically to hate. I am so ready for this.”

The chance for a fresh start with a franchise that has started fresh — even one he has faced twice a year thus far in his career — ultimately appealed to him.

“That was a key selling point,” Marks said. “It’s appealing. I’m coming in here and understanding what they want me to do. They want me to come in and just be myself. To them, that’s being a leader and being a guy who can control a lot of different things.

“I’m willing to take that role. I look at myself the same way. Being here from the start is way better than being here at the tail end.”