Jacksonville to cut ties with Leftwich
Jags to release or trade incumbent QB, start Garrard
Posted: Friday August 31, 2007 5:12PM; Updated: Sunday September 2, 2007 11:44PM
In a stunning move nine days before the start of the NFL season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have decided to release or trade incumbent starting quarterback Byron Leftwich.
"To make a decision this bold requires some strong conviction, and I have that," said Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said.
Jacksonville, which passed on selecting Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn in the 2007 draft to the consternation of many fans, will start veteran David Garrard when it opens the season against Tennessee on Sept. 9.
"I believe David is our guy," Del Rio said. "He's proven to be a playmaker for us. He can be a threat both throwing and running it. We believe he's really improved during this offseason, and I feel he's earned this opportunity. "He has a quick release, good feet and really has done a nice job of taking his game to another level."
The move was prompted by Leftwich's poor play in the preseason, and, one club source said, the thought that he was lackadaisical and placed little importance in how he practiced or played this summer once coach Del Rio named him the starting quarterback in the offseason. Particularly disturbing was his play in an exhibition game at Green Bay two weeks ago, the source said. For the summer, Leftwich completed 19 of 38 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games. He misfired on several passes, badly overthrew Dennis Northcutt on two deep routes against Green Bay, and continued to show sloppy mechanics with his feet and throwing motion..
The move will shave Leftwich's $5.6-million salary off the Jacksonville books and put the disappointing quarterback in limbo. This was a contract year for him, and he got into great shape to prove he could be one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
It's not known how many teams would be interested in acquiring Leftwich, because the move comes as such a shock. But Kansas City and coach Herman Edwards would surely be intrigued. The Chiefs have grown wary of placing their quarterbacking future in the hands of second-year passer Brodie Croyle, who has had a poor camp this summer.
Material from AP was used in this report.