End of an Era

The Jaguars have decided to part ways with veteran running back Fred Taylor. Is this a good move for the team and the fanbase?

"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."

The news that Fred Taylor's career may indeed be over in Jacksonville is hardly shocking, as there were plenty of hints. His $6 million cap number for 2009 is certainly daunting for a small market team. Taylor is north of 33 years old and his total of 556 rushing yards and just one touchdown certainly doesn't justify a top running back type of salary.

Another hint that was more than a hint was when Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio insinuated in his year end press conference that the team would require all players on the roster to work out with the team in Jacksonville. That was a direct message to Taylor. Still, wherever Fred Taylor decided to work out was not the deciding factor in this move, it simply came down to dollars and sense. Taylor is a 33-year old running back whose numbers declined sharply in 2008. Although he was certainly the most recognizable Jaguar in team history, he didn't sell tickets and that's what the team needs right now, not a 33-year old running back who isn't going to play to the level of half of his salary.

Fred Taylor (Keith Srakocic/AP)
Coach Del Rio complimented the work Taylor had done for the team through his years of service.

"I have nothing but love and respect for Fred Taylor," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "In the six years that we've been together he has been a pro, a leader and a great teammate. Out of respect for Fred we went to meet with him face-to-face this morning in south Florida. He made it clear that he wants to continue playing, and we are making this move now so that he can continue his career."

The most contributing factor to this move was the emergence on and off the field of running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew is the Jaguars biggest playmaker and the more he touches the football, the more good things happen for the team. With contract renegotiations currently going on for Jones-Drew with Jaguars general manager Gene Smith and Jones-Drew's agent Adisa Bakari, Jacksonville is committed to moving on with the young running back from UCLA.

There will certainly be some public out lash for this move as long time Jaguars/Florida Gators fans feel an emotional connection to Taylor, but it's clearly time to move on. Coming off a 5-11 season, the Jaguars are in rebuild mode. You can't rebuild around a 33-year old, 500 yard running back.

Fred Taylor provided nothing but good words as he referred to the only NFL team he had ever played for.

"I want to thank Wayne Weaver and the coaches and the Jaguars organization for 11 great years," Taylor said. "I feel healthy and I'm determined to continue my career. I understand the team's decision to move on, and I have nothing but warm feelings for the Jaguars organization."

It's out with the old and in with the new in Jacksonville.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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