JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The team confirms Monday morning what was widely expected as soon as the Jaguars' worst-ever season ended: team owner Shad Khan "parts ways" with Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith.
"Now it is time for the Jacksonville Jaguars to begin a new chapter," Khan said in a statement released by the team at 8 a.m. "We're not looking back. I've made it clear from Day One that we pledge nothing less than to deliver the first Super Bowl championship to Jacksonville. Our fans have been remarkably loyal over the years, and they were truly outstanding this past season. We simply must do better for our fans."
The statement said Khan will immediately begin his search for the new general manager, but adds he will not comment on the process until the new general manager is introduced.
"I met with Gene Smith this morning to inform him of my decision to go in a new direction and thank him for his dedication to the Jaguars since the inception of the franchise," Khan said in Monday morning's statement."#Jaguars twitter feed
The Jaguars ended the season with five straight losses and their 2-14 season is new franchise record. The team has won 22 and lost 42 during the Smith's four-year tenure as general manager.
At his end-of-season news conference Monday morning, head coach Mike Mularkey -- whose position on the team could also be on the line -- praised Smith.
"He knows I have a lot of respect for him, both professionally and personally," Mularkey said.
Mularkey said he met with Khan on Monday morning and his future was not addressed. He said he had always reported directly to Khan, not to the general manager.
"I am moving forward as a head coach until I'm told otherwise," Mularkey said.
NFL Network's Mike Lombardi said Sunday that former owner Wayne Weaver urged Khan to retain Smith, but the new owner wanted to hand-pick his own general manager.
"Gene is a good man with a long career ahead of him in football, and I know this season was as difficult for him as anyone with our organization," Khan said.
The Jaguars said the team will honor the remaining two years on Smith's contract.
ESPN, the NFL Network and other media outlets were reporting Sunday that the Jaguars would fire Smith, and are even speculating on who will replace him.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Cardinals director of player personnel Jason Licht and 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble are the top candidates to replace Smith.
The decision to change general managers leaves the fate of first-year head coach Mularkey uncertain. A new general manager would likely be given the option to stay with Mularkey or make a different decision.
Smith had been with the team since its inception in 1994, working his way up from regional scout to general manager. Since he became GM in January 2009, the team failed to acquire a single player who made the Pro Bowl.
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