Taylor was released this past week by the Washington Redskins, just one season
removed from a trade whereby the Skins sent a 2009 second round pick and a 2010
sixth round pick to the Miami Dolphins for their all-time greatest defender.
The official reason for the release was that Taylor refused to commit to the team's
offseason conditioning program, this after spending a good portion of the 2008
season injured (calf) and thus limited in his ability to produce.
Redskins were completely justified in their insistence that Taylor get with their program at an
acceptable level. Though he showed up to camp in great cardiovascular shape, one
questions if he was truly in great football shape. This, more than
anything else, could have been the cause of his injured-plagued season.
Redskins suspected that another spring and summer of offsite training would probably
yield the same result, so they cut him.
Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, “Jason Taylor was a real professional during his
time with the Redskins. He played hurt, but still gave his best effort to be
prepared and play hard every week. We wish him and his family the very best.”
The move will save the Redskins about $8 million in 2009.
was being kind, of course. Had he been blunt, he’d have conceded that Taylor was a bust. What
else to say when a team gives up second and sixth round picks for a potential
Hall of Fame defensive end, but gains 36 tackles and 3.5 sacks in return?
what’s next for the man we call “JT”? Taylor
says he is now at a point in his life where he wants to spend more time with
his family and less around football. He wants to spend the offseason in South
Florida or elsewhere, anywhere but the Redskins' training facility in Ashburn, VA.
His agent, Gary Wichard, told The Miami Herald’s David J. Neal that it was “too
early” to say what Taylor’s next move will be.
here’s a suggestion: retire. Retire and enjoy your family, your money, and
(hopefully) a successful acting career. You’ve had one foot in the door now for
a year or more. It’s time to walk on through.
this is not the first time that we've seen evidence that football is no longer
of prime professional importance to Taylor.
Last year, Taylor packed up his family and
re-located to Los Angeles,
eschewing the Dolphins’ offseason conditioning program, so that he could devote
himself full time to Dancing With The Stars. It was this significant
non-football commitment, together with Taylor’s request for a trade, which
likely prompted Bill Parcells to believe that Taylor's focus on the game might
be waning and that a trade would indeed be in everyone’s best interest.
that Taylor is
a free agent, many think the Dolphins should re-sign him.
the sake of discussion, let’s assume that Taylor
would be willing to play for a cap-friendly deal, a very BIG assumption in and
of itself. The following questions would have to be answered to the Dolphins’
satisfaction for any reunion to be considered.
have to convince Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano that his heart is
still in the game at a level they would demand. They know that when a player
begins to act like he's going to retire soon, the chances are decent that he
has already done so mentally. DWTS and now Taylor’s desire to spend more time with his
family is evidence that this could be the case. Is it?
Where would Taylor
line up? Joey Porter has since assumed JT's role at weak-side LB, quite
successfully, and Taylor
is too small to play DE full time in the 3-4. The only options would be at
strong-side OLB, opposite Porter, where Matt Roth lined up in 2008 (and Porter
played in 2007), or as a situational pass rusher. Would JT be satisfied with
either of these roles at this point in his career?
Team leadership. The Dolphins aren't Jason Taylor's team anymore. Chad
Pennington and Porter have taken the reigns now and their team won an AFC East
Championship. Would it be awkward for Taylor
to come back and accept a lesser role under these circumstances?
yes, the Dolphins might have interest in bringing him back, though it is
difficult right now to see how this could come to pass. He would have to be
willing to jump through ALL of the above mentioned hoops, and probably others
that Parcells would insist on, in order to don his #99 Dolphin jersey once
again. There’s little evidence right now to suggest that JT would be interested
in doing it, even though it might give him the chance to end his career on the
field on a more positive note.
it conceivable that he would agree to play with yet another team, in yet another
city, with no better a guarantee of a championship than he had in Washington? As
Wichard said, it’s “too early” to tell.
truly unfortunate that things in Washington
didn't work out for JT the way he had hoped. He probably wishes that he had
kept his mouth shut, the proverbial “grass isn’t greener on the other side”
lesson forever ringing in his head.
a player of Taylor’s
stature makes a mess of his football future, his options become few and imperfect.
It’s sad but true. If Taylor’s
commitment to becoming an actor remains strong, and his desire for football has
truly weakened, then the writing on the wall is crystal clear.
time to hang up the cleats for good.