Garrard: Jaguars Franchise Quarterback

On Monday, the Jacksonville Jaguars locked up their franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future. Quarterback David Garrard signed a six-year deal worth $60 million and approximately $20 million in guarantees.

The deal averages out to $10 million a season, making Garrard the eighth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL, and the highest paid Jaguar in franchise history. Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio gave glowing remarks about his quarterback in Monday's press conference–

"Obviously as the head coach I'm very excited to have our quarterback signed up long term, on board, and he's made us all proud. As I've said before, he's not only a very good football player, but a very good young man and I really respect and appreciate the person that he is, the job he's done, and we believe that his best football is ahead of him."

As we all know, David Garrard became the starter last season after an impressive preseason and head coach Jack Del Rio decided to release the previous years starter and former seventh-overall draft pick, Byron Leftwich in a bold move. This surprised many considering the fanfare from the front office about how Leftwich looked in training camp with new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. It also came as a surprise because of how the 2006 season ended. The Jaguars were 8-5 and in the playoff hunt, only to drop their final three games in which David Garrard was benched just after half-time in the season finale. Garrard spoke about that Kansas City game–

"It was the first time in my football career that I had ever been pulled out of a game and I understand why things go like that. You never want it to happen to you, but it did."

David Garrard did not let that stop him however, and the Jaguars high-character signal caller bounced back tremendously in 2007 once he was given the starting nod. Despite narrowly missing the Probowl, Garrard was one of the better quarterbacks in the AFC in 2007. He finished the season with only three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 102.2, the 3rd best in the entire NFL. When asked if he could envision this a year ago, Garrard responded–

"Absolutely not. This time last year I was just trying to figure out what was in store for me because things had not turned out the way I would have liked them to at the end of the year. But I knew the best thing for me was to stay positive and to know that my time was going to come again."

With the new contract David Garrard signed and the additions to the wide receiving corps in Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson, it will be interesting to see what the expectations are for David Garrard with his new contract. As mentioned before, he is now the eighth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL, and rightfully so as many would argue. The question is, what kind of numbers should we expect from a quarterback now making $10 million a season? Garrard finished last season ranked 15th in touchdowns, 18th in passing yards, and 22nd in passing attempts (23rd in attempts/game). Some would argue the Jaguars overpaid Garrard based on only one real year of solid production, which is a very legitimate concern. You could point to where he ranked in the major passing categories and make that argument quite easily however, in this day and age you have to overpay to keep certain players at certain positions. It's easy to argue that the team should have taken the Tony Romo approach and waited a few games into the season just to make sure. Could they have possibly paid more? Absolutely, however it would likely be less of a gamble.

The question is, what do we expect out of David Garrard this season with his new weapons, new contract, and a full year under Dirk Koetter's offense that opened up more and more as the season went on? Is 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns going to be good enough for the $10 million dollar man? Or should Jaguar fans expect bigger numbers out of the eighth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL? Based on just his pay ranking alone, Jaguar fans might expect numbers in the 3,500+ yard and 25+ touchdown range. It will be interesting to see how expectations change now that Garrard has cashed in and how far he can take the Jaguars. There is a lot of buzz around the Jaguars this offseason in NFL circles, and many believe the Jaguars are one of the elite teams in the AFC, and should compete to make it to the Super Bowl. It will be up to Garrard to make this offense even more explosive than it previously was and make it deeper into the playoffs.

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