Book Still Open on Hayward

Reggie Hayward played in one game for the Jaguars last year, recording three tackles and one sack. Had Hayward not suffered ligament damage in his ankle that caused a stress fracture and had he continued his one sack per game average, he would have finished with 16 sacks which would have been two more than the entire team recorded in the 2009 season.

That might be the best indication how much the Jaguars missed Hayward's play on the field and his leadership in the locker room. The problem is that Hayward has now suffered season-ending injuries in the Jaguars' season-opener twice in the last four years.

And at age 31, Hayward is enough of a veteran to know that his best days are behind him. Still, he feels he can be a contributor, whether with the Jaguars or as a free-agent signee with another NFL club. He's exploring options with other teams but thus far there haven't been any takers.

At this point in his career, a lucrative contract won't be coming from anyone. Hayward is just looking for someone who will give him a chance for playing time.

"It's not a money issue," he said.

That's good because the Jaguars are offering him only slightly more than the veteran minimum of $755,000 that a player with 7-9 years of time in the league must receive. Hayward will play in his 10th NFL season this fall if he signs with someone.

At first glance, it appears Jacksonville wouldn't have an interest in Hayward after signing free agent Aaron Kampman. Hayward will take that into account when making his final decision he said.

"Do they (Jaguars) really need my services? They just signed a great lineman in Kampman. I'll have to make a decision," Hayward said.

Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith said the team is still interested in bringing back Hayward.

"We'll always listen. He was a team captain for us and the right kind of person," Smith said. "We still think he has something left. We'll just see how it plays out.

In the three seasons in which he's played at least 12 games with the Jaguars, Hayward has led the team in sacks in two of those years. He's always played at a fast pace and has become a fan favorite, but at age 31, it's a matter of how much is left in the gas tank. He thinks he can still play at a peak level.

"I'm not just a role player," he said. "I can be a game-changer."

And when a team only has 14 sacks for an entire season, it's looking for a game-changer.


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