Fred Taylor told reporters on Wednesday that he intends to play in the NFL next season, whether it is with the Jaguars or another team. Taylor said his preference, of course, is that he finish his career with the Jaguars.
"I plan on playing football. I want to be here," Taylor said. "I want to play football. This is where my heart is. Jacksonville is all I know. I never, ever wanted to go into free agency."
Taylor has two years remaining on his Jaguars contract, but he sounded as though he's not sure whether the Jaguars want to bring him back next season. Third-year running back Maurice Jones-Drew's workload has increased steadily and Jones-Drew is only four carries away from taking the team lead from Taylor.
"This is the lowest production I've put out. This is a production business," Taylor said. "I'm a competitor. I want those opportunities like I've always gotten, but I don't want them given to me, I want to earn them."
Taylor is due to earn $6 million in salary next season. Jones-Drew is seeking a new, long-term contract and he has taken the rushing lead from Taylor this season. Jones-Drew has rushed for 503 yards and 11 touchdowns on 118 carries through 11 games, while Taylor has rushed for 436 yards on 121 carries. Jones-Drew has also caught 40 passes for 393 yards, while Taylor has 14 receptions for 86 yards.
"I don't expect answers. They don't owe me that," Taylor said of his diminishing role. "I don't know what's going to happen. I still feel like I can play at a high level. That's why I say I will play somewhere, this being my first option. I have to play football. I want to go out as I came in. I don't want to just fade away."
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio was noncommittal during his Wednesday press conference on the question of Taylor's future with the team.
"I can tell you we haven't turned our attention, yet, to our roster going forward. We'll work through those issues when it's time. I'm not ready to get into any offseason discussions," Del Rio said. "Guys that extend their careers and play beyond what is normal are decisions you need to be careful with and make sure it's the right decision for you and them.
"Over the last six years, there's nothing he's done that I haven't been proud of," Del Rio said of Taylor. "He's been a great pro here. Every Sunday he shows up ready to give his all to the team."