Jacksonville, Florida (PressExposure) February 16, 2009 -- General Manager of the Jacksonville, Jaguars, Gene Smith is busy making over the roster for the 2009 season.
February 9th, was the first day to release players and Smith wasted no time, releasing WR Jerry Porter and CB Drayton Florence on February 10th. A week later, on February 16th, Smith announced the release of 11 year veteran RB Fred Taylor.
Taylor was the longest tenured player in Jaguar history, starting as a 1st round pick in 1998. During his career he has racked up a number of Franchise bests.
Taylor has led in rushing yards 8 out of the eleven years he's played for the Jags, has the four longest runs in Jaguar history, ranks third within the franchise with 286 receptions for 2,361 yards and 70 touchdowns.
He is the only player in the NFL to boast 5 consecutive 100 yard rushing games, and ranks 16th in NFL history.
"This was a difficult decision to come to, but a decision that had to be made despite how we all feel about Fred," general manager Gene Smith said. "We all respect and appreciate what Fred has done, and we feel that he can still play in the NFL, but in our current situation we believe this is the right move at this time."
To say that he will be missed is an understatement. But, after an all time low with only 556 yards in 2008, mostly due to injuries, he is clearly second pick to Maurice Jones-drew, who rushed for 824 yards with 13 touchdowns.
The next step for Taylor is to find team where he'll fit. Vic Ketchem, senior editor of Jaguars.com states, "...Fred is on the "street" and he is free to sign with any team in the league right now. We were talking on the phone on Thursday and I told him that I thought Philadelphia would be a great place for him. He'd love to play in Miami, for the obvious reason. New England is another real good place for him. I told him that, in my opinion, he should not sign with a team that is not a Super Bowl contender. He wants a ring and, in my opinion, the Eagles will begin next season as one of the favorites to win the NFC."
The next step for the Jaguars seems to be focusing on rebuilding a team that left last season with a 5-11 standing. They'll begin that process February 19th with the Scouting Combine. "We're going to need a very strong offseason, and the draft is part of that," [Coach Jack] Del Rio said. "We've got a lot of work to do, and from my end, I'm excited about getting started, rolling up my sleeves, jumping in and working at it."
The Scouting combine is compared to a job fair for college graduates looking to be picked up in the draft. It is the first chance for the coaching staff to see the individuals outside their uniforms, and to evaluate them as a whole package and just their skills on the field.