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Taylor Move A Year Early

Commentary By Channel 4 Sports Director Sam Kouvaris

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I think it was a year early.

The Jaguars released Fred Taylor on Monday, "going younger" according to Taylor. While at first you might have thought it was a money move, the Jaguars and Taylor confirmed that they've just decided to "move on."

"We made a decision to move on and went to visit Fred to tell him that," General Manager Gene Smith said at an informal press gathering.

"It was an emotional decision, especially for me since I scouted Fred in college for the Jaguars but it was a decision we've made with the other running backs on our roster," he added.

Smith and head coach Jack Del Rio said they wanted to go forward with Maurice Jones Drew, Chauncey Washington, Montel Owens and Greg Jones.

"There's only one ball, and this is a talented group of backs who will get more touches," Smith explained.

"Fred was willing to do pretty much anything," Del Rio confirmed. "But we had made a decision and wanted a decision from Fred."

He said he was going to play more football so he'd be applying for free agency.

Taylor has some more good football in him, to coin a phrase. He's still a productive player, even though he's an 11-year veteran. So why get rid of him right now if you think he can still play?

I thought this would be a year that Taylor and Jones Drew would switch roles. Jones Drew would be the featured back with Taylor providing the change of pace.

"We just didn't see a role for Fred," Del Rio explained. "Perhaps it's easier to accept a different role somewhere else where you haven't been the featured back but we like they guys we have on our roster."

Perhaps, but can they replace Taylor's explosiveness? I don't think anybody would disagree that Fred lost half a step last year but at the same time he was still productive. He might have a couple of 2-yard carries, but they'd be followed by him ripping off something long and significant.

Greg Jones is a good back no matter what you ask him to do. Owens and Washington are unproven, especially when you think about picking up big chunks of yardage.

Can Jones Drew handle another ten touches a game? Probably.

And what about in the locker room? Taylor was a team captain and a leader just from his tenure in the league.

"We have a void in that area," Del Rio admitted. "And we're looking for some guys to replace that."

I suppose that means he's going to lean on Jones Drew and David Garrard to step up and grab leadership positions. Again, an unknown.

Taylor will end up somewhere, probably a contender as a complimentary back. Indy, the Giants, New England? All would seem like good fits for Fred. Wherever, he'll still be productive.

It again shows that Smith and Del Rio are shaping the roster right away the way they want.

Maybe the right move.

Just a year early.

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