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Jaguars Release Fred Taylor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fred Taylor -- the Jaguars' most tenured and, arguably, most popular player -- has played his last game with the team.

Channel 4's sports director Sam Kouvaris learned Monday morning the team released the 11-year veteran running back.

Taylor led the Jaguars in eight of his 10 seasons and started 123 of 127 games over the past decade. Taylor has rushed for 10,715 yards and 61 touchdowns and has 2,263 yards and eight touchdowns receiving in his career.

Taylor, 33, played at the University of Florida and is listed as 6 feet 1 inch and 228 pounds. He is 16th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 11,271 yards, 81 behind John Riggins.

Coach Jack Del Rio, general manager Gene Smith and owner Wayne Weaver flew to South Florida on Monday and met with Taylor and his agent to talk specifically about what Taylor's role might be in the future. Although Taylor wanted to continue his role with the Jaguars, the team told the running back that they were moving on.

In a statement released at 2 p.m. saying that the Jaguars released Taylor, Weaver praised the teams 1998 first-round draft pick.

"Fred Taylor's place in Jaguars history has been clearly established," Weaver said. "He is not only the standard-bearer for many team records, he is and has been a leader and one of the most important people in the 15-year history of this franchise. I want to thank Fred for all that he has contributed to this franchise and this city. He is a true professional and a champion."

Taylor had 556 yards rushing last season -- splitting time with Maurice Jones-Drew -- and averaged a career-low 3.9 yards a carry behind an injury-riddled offensive line.

"When we have a group of players, like we have here at that position, you've got one football and there are only so many touches so many players can get," Smith said. "It was a very difficult decision, but I think in regards to Fred and in regards to the Jaguars it was the best decision."

In 2007, Taylor was elected to the Pro Bowl for the first time.

"I don't think it's much of a surprise, actually," Kouvaris said on the local station at noon. "He contract was up, Fred has become a free agent. So he'll be able to play somewhere else -- one of the 31 other teams."

Last year the Jaguars paid Taylor about $6 million. While Kouvaris said Taylor said "he still had some football in him" and he would be willing to take less money to stay in Jacksonville. The question was how much less.

"He probably would have to agreed to take half of that (the $6 million)," Kouvaris said, while the team probably was willing to offer him between $1 million and $2 million.

"I want to thank Wayne Weaver and the coaches and the Jaguars organization for 11 great years," Taylor said in the Jaguars' statement. "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."

Taylor is the Jaguars career, single-season (1,572, 2003) and single-game (234, 11/19/00 at Pittsburgh) rushing leader. He trails only Arizona's Edgerrin James (12,121) and San Diego?s LaDainian Tomlinson (11,760) among active running backs in rushing yards.

"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."

Taylor holds the franchise record for total touchdowns (70), yards from scrimmage (13,632) and all-purpose yards. Taylor ranks third in franchise history with 286 receptions for 2,361 yards. He has played in seven of the club?s 11 playoff games.

"This was a difficult decision to come to, but a decision that had to be made despite how we all feel about Fred," 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."