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Jaguars Cut Porter, Florence

Commentary By Sports Director Sam Kouvaris

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It?s a sign that Gene Smith is taking control of the roster. Just two days after teams were allowed to release players, Smith cut loose Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence from the Jaguars.

They were among the most expensive free agents ever signed by the Jaguars -- Porter getting a $10 million signing bonus and Florence taking in around $13 million in up front money. Neither produced, but that?s part of the equation when you sign a free agent.

Sometimes it?s a roll of the dice but I thought what Smith said, or didn?t say, spoke volumes about how these guys didn?t fit into what the Jaguars are up to.

?In going through our personnel evaluations and roster analysis we are making decisions that we believe will help improve our team for the 2009 season and beyond,? is the only statement the Jaguars released. But not saying much, Smith explained exactly what he?s trying to do: make the team better.

For $23 million, Wayne Weaver didn?t get anything in return, and in fact he got a worse team than he had in 2007. Even if they didn?t produce on the field, Porter and Florence would have been expected to be leaders in the locker room, on the field and perhaps provide mentoring for younger players. But instead, they were unsettling influences throughout the team. Bad guys, in essence.

With that kind of money, a known quantity in the locker room, there?s always the possibility that dissension will be part of the equation among teammates, especially if the guys making the money aren?t doing anything. So instead of adding to the product, they dragged everybody down.

Thankfully, they?re gone. And the process of rebuilding, not just the roster but also the spirit in the locker room can begin.

Smith, as the General Manager says he wants ?character? guys on the team. That would be hard to do with that unsettling influence still hanging around.

So now?s the time that David Garrard, Rashean Mathis and others need to assert themselves as leaders on this team. They need to be vocal, even if they?re not the vocal types.

The off-season conditioning program starts in about a month, but the players are already gathering together to do their own workouts at the HIT Center and other gyms in town.

There should be some optimism. They need it.