Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio today named David Garrard the team's starting quarterback and announced the team's intention to trade or release quarterback Byron Leftwich.
"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 that we feel gives us the best chance of winning."
Garrard, 29, is in his sixth season with the Jaguars after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2002 draft. He has started 15 of the Jaguars' last 22 games over the past two seasons. Garrard has posted a career passer rating of 78.9 in completing 313 of 539 passes for 3,543 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also has a 5.5-yard average per rush and six touchdowns on 115 career rushing attempts, and is 10-8 as a starter including nine wins and six losses over the past 15 games.
"Every decision, whether significant or seemingly insignificant, is made with winning in mind," said Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver. "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."
"David has played very well throughout the offseason and he's had an excellent preseason," added Jaguars VP/player personnel James Harris. "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 with 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions for a passer rating of 80.5. Leftwich has been the starter for most of his four seasons in Jacksonville.
All NFL teams must reduce their rosters to 53 by 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.