The Jaguars will announce at a press conference late Friday afternoon their intention to trade quarterback Byron Leftwich prior to Saturday's six p.m. deadline for cutting the roster to 53 players. Head coach Jack Del Rio will simultaneously announce that David Garrard is the team's new official starting quarterback.
"We've gone through the offseason, training camp and the preseason with Byron as our starter, but after thorough ongoing evaluation of the entire body of work, we have made the decision that David gives us the best chance to win," Del Rio said. "We're naming David as our starting quarterback.
"This is a strong team with a solid roster and we feel that David's performance and continuing improvement warrants this decision to name him the starter. Byron has been a very important part of this team and this is a significant move to make, but it is a move we feel gives us the best chance of winning," Del Rio added.
Garrard replaced Leftwich at quarterback in the seventh game of last season and had the Jaguars on the brink of clinching a playoff berth before the team lost its final three games of the season. Garrard started his push for the starting job in the second full week of this summer's training camp. He continued his impressive play through the preseason, completing 76.6 percent of his passes – 36 of 47 for 456 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 113.4 passer rating.
In 18 regular-season starts, Garrard has a 10-8 record. He's started 15 games the last two seasons and holds a 9-6 record. He quarterbacked the Jaguars to five wins in the last six games of the 2005 season to cap a 12-4 record and the team's first playoff berth since 1999.
"Every decision, whether significant or seemingly insignificant, is made with winning in mind," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said. "There are many very difficult decisions that have to be made and this is certainly one of the most difficult decisions we've faced. But once the decision is made, we move on together with conviction. Our goal is to put the best team on the field in order to win, and that is what matters. I do want to thank Byron and acknowledge all that he has done for this organization. He is a professional and he will do well wherever he goes."
The Jaguars made Leftwich the seventh pick of the 2003 draft, the first draft of the Del Rio/James Harris era. Harris, the team's personnel director, said: "David has played very well throughout the offseason and he's had an excellent preseason. He has shown improvement and he has earned the opportunity to start. Byron has been a contributor to our team and has always given his best effort every day."
Leftwich was 24-20 as a starter, completing 789 of 1,344 passes for 9,042 yards, 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions for a passer rating of 80.5. Leftwich had been the team's official starting quarterback since the fourth game of his rookie season.