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It was a football decision

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Craig from Jacksonville:
Is cutting Fred Taylor the right thing to do when the team faces so many challenges?

Vic: This team isn't one player away. Come on, we have to know that. The Jaguars have obviously committed to repairing their roster and releasing Fred, in my opinion, drives home that point. It's a young man's game and this team needs to get younger. With this move, the ball is being handed to Maurice Jones-Drew. He is now this team's feature running back. Would it have been a good thing to have Fred, arguably the greatest player in Jaguars history, playing in a diminished role? I don't think that would've been good for anyone, including Fred. That's not what he wants to do. You also have to consider the salary situation. It would've been insulting to Fred to re-structure him lower, but if you don't do that, then you run the risk of breeding the same kind of salary contempt that hurt this team last season. I can give you several feel-good reasons for bringing Fred back – nobody's going to miss him more than I will – but football is a tough game for tough guys and it requires tough decisions. This team is starting new. It is committed to building through the draft, getting younger and stepping into its future. This isn't the first one of these I've covered. They're always tough but not surprising.

Zack from Daytona Beach, FL:
Regarding the release of Fred, I wanted to know if you saw this coming?

Vic: I said on "Jaguars This Week" late last year that I expected Fred to retire following the season. That was right before he made his comments about wanting to come back, even if it meant playing for another team. I wasn't shocked by those comments, but I didn't think Fred wanted to play away from home and his family, so to speak, so I figured he'd shut it down, but I was wrong. I guess the answer to your question is that I expected that he was playing his final season with the Jaguars. In my opinion, this is a move everyone should've known was coming. In fact, I brought it up on "Jaguars This Week" last Wednesday to make a point of reminding everyone that the Jaguars were coming up on decision time on Fred, since he had a $1 million roster bonus due the first week of March.

Brett from Jacksonville:
With the release of Fred Taylor, do you see the Jaguars getting another running back to share the load with MoJo, or do you see more Greg Jones in the game plan?

Vic: This year's draft includes a good-looking bunch of running backs and if one was at the top of the Jaguars' board when it was their turn to pick, I can't think of a reason for not picking him.

Tudor from Saint Augustine, FL:
Vic im shocked, you made a spelling error in response to Kevin's question...."thinks"....i believe you actually meant "things". Must have been a tough week huh? You are usually right on the money with stuff like that.

Vic: Please accept my apology.

Mike from Irvine, CA:
Does Fred's release really mean the Jags and Fred couldn't reach a new economic deal, assuming he already knew he wasn't going to start anymore?

Vic: The team was not interested in re-structuring Fred's contract lower. The release of Fred was a football decision.

Jason from Honolulu, HI:
This must have had some kind of emotional impact on you, right?

Vic: Yeah, but my emotions occurred late last season when I realized this was the end. I remember it hitting me in Chicago, which ended up being his final game. We were on the same wave length and he knew I had him gone. At one point after he went on injured reserve, I told him I had something I wanted him to sign before he left. He smiled. It still needs to be signed.

Steve from Neptune Beach, FL:
Oh, how my heart hurts today. I know it's a business, but is it OK to feel the way I do? I am trying to understand it.

Vic: It's absolutely OK to feel the way you do, but there are no buts. It's a tough business that, as I said above, requires tough decisions. The Jaguars knew this decision would be unpopular with fans but they believe they are doing what's right for this franchise, and that's what's best for the team's fans. I honestly believe Fred respects that.

John from Jacksonville:
Who will Fred Taylor sign with?

Vic: Obviously, it'll be a team that needs a veteran running back. I'm sure Fred will want to stay close to home, which means Miami would likely be his top choice, but what is the Dolphins' need for a running back? The AFC and NFC South teams would be likely candidates. What about Tampa?

Don from Julington Creek, FL:
I know it's only business, but releasing Fred Taylor without even trying to re-structure an agreement is as disloyal to a long-term employee as I can think of.

Vic: I completely disagree. In my opinion, trying to beat a guy out of money is a show of disrespect and disloyalty. This situation is very different from Jerome Bettis agreeing to take a pay cut. Bettis had, for all intents and purposes, retired. When he agreed to take a pay cut to rejoin the Steelers, it was expected that he'd only carry the ball a few times a game; mostly to score touchdowns. Bettis also had a very successful line of foods on the Pittsburgh super market shelves, so there was marketing gain in it for him not to retire. Fred said he would've taken a pay cut, but I was standing right there when he said it and the edge in his voice was palpable. There's no question in my mind that it would've hurt him to do that. It might've caused bitterness and that would've been the worst possible thing to happen because Fred is a heritage player and you should never, ever damage the image of your heritage players. His release and the way it was handled is honorable. It's the way men do business. He and the Jaguars each handled it with distinction.

Marvin from Abingdon, MD:
What will you miss most about number 28?

Vic: I'll miss talking to him. I've seen lots of great players play, but the ones I remember most fondly are the ones with whom I enjoyed talking and Fred is one of those. He's a great interview and a great conversationalist.

Ji from Jacksonville:
Taylor passes torch? Did the Jags write that headline? It was not a torch passing, it was a cutting. He was forced to leave. He did not willingly pass the torch. What a homer.

Vic: In this case, you may be right. There was no way I was going to write this story insensitively. I view it as a torch passing and whether it is or it isn't, that's the way it was gonna be in my story. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but some things need to be treated lovingly and this is one of them.

Tim from Brooklyn, NY:
With the release of Fred Taylor, it seems as though Smith is willing to make the hard decisions that come with a philosophy of "replacement, not maintenance." I understand that and I'm supportive of the decision. I can't say my heart doesn't ache a little, though.

Vic: The two best running backs I've ever covered were each cut by teams that drafted them in the first round. The other one is Franco Harris who, in the summer of the season he was expected to pass Jim Brown and become the all-time leading rusher, was cut. That's right, the guy who defined the Steelers' dynasty. It was Franco's "Immaculate Reception" that began that dynasty, yet, in the end he was the victim of a tough decision that, as it turned out, was the right one. It's that kind of a business and if that's not your cup of tea, then this game isn't for you. They don't pay Gene Smith to make the easy decisions. They don't pay him to lead cheers. They pay him to make the team win and that often means having to make tough decisions.

Aaron from Reno, NV:
Give me the legacy of Fred Taylor.

Vic: He's the greatest player in Jaguars history.

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