Jaguars Cure Cancer

It was Jaguars new general manager Gene Smith's first significant move since being named to the position several weeks ago by owner Wayne Weaver. Smith had hedged in previous weeks to discuss whether Jerry Porter and/or Drayton Florence would remain as Jaguars for the '09 season, despite being paid a collective $23 million as free agents a year ago.

The anticipation was that both players could and would match their top efforts with previous NFL clubs, Porter with the Oakland Raiders, Florence with the San Diego Chargers. It didn't happen for either. The only thing that was matched was Porter's cancer-like demeanor in the locker room that he originally exhibited while with the Raiders.

Florence wasn't as bad, but he was subjected to some cold shoulder treatment from some Jaguars veterans who resented the $36 million contract he had signed in the offseason.

With the team chemistry already at one of the lowest points in the club's 12-year history, no players would talk publicly about the two highly paid, but under-achieving NFL veterans. But the rolled eyes and slow-head shakes from some of the team's veteran defensive players said enough to know there was resentment towards Florence.

Porter never connected with his teammates. His best days as a Jaguar came in April and May when he was making impressive catches and showing good speed in separating from defensive backs. But those were days when players were in shorts, running 7-on-7 drills. Porter never showed that form once training camp opened in July. He missed all of camp and the first three games of the regular season while he sat idly by on the sidelines watching. This despite Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio announcing in July that he was calling for Porter's rehab work to be complete by the start of the regular season.

In evaluating the roster, Smith showed the team was ready to change its pattern from the past of giving players, especially highly-paid free agents, an extra year after a failed first season. The moves were also done in hopes of gaining a more positive attitude in the locker room.

"In going through our personnel evaluations and roster analysis, we are making decisions we believe will help improve our team for the 2009 season and beyond," Smith said in a statement sent out by the club.

Added Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, "it just wasn't a good fit."

In previous years, the Jaguars might have kept the two veterans around through the team's organized team activities to see if they could show their true talent and that they had fully recovered from last year's groin problems. But facing a PR problem with a fan base that is diminishing and appears to be skeptical about the coming season with an unattractive home schedule and plenty of question marks regarding last year's 5-11 season, the Jaguars felt they had to release Porter and Florence now, rather than risk a continued flow of negative news during the offseason.

No NFL team wants to take a $5 million cap hit and have nothing to show for it in a season. But the negative connotations that would have continued to fester within the organization was worth the price of letting Porter and Florence go.

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