Taylor realizes next season probably won't be in Jacksonville
Taylor said Wednesday he wants to play another NFL season, but realizes it might not be in the same place he spent the first 11 years of his career.
Although Taylor said his first choice would be to remain with the Jaguars, he also knows how the business side of the league works.
Taylor has two years remaining on his contract and is due to make $6 million next season. Throw in coach Jack Del Rio's promise for change, and several aging veterans -- most notably Taylor -- are expecting to move. Linebacker Mike Peterson, center Brad Meester, left tackle Khalif Barnes, defensive end Reggie Hayward and receiver Reggie Williams also could be elsewhere in 2009.
But none of them has been in Jacksonville nearly as long as Taylor.
"I just want to play football," Taylor said. "This is where my heart is. Jacksonville is all I know. This isn't the last stop. It took me eight years to learn that there were 31 other teams in the NFL. I've always been afraid to get cut, be released, all of that. How come you think I'm still here? I never ever wanted to go into free agency."
It could happen, though.
Taylor has 436 yards rushing this season and is averaging a career-worst 3.6 yards per carry. Sure, Jacksonville's offensive line has been hampered by injuries, but Taylor will be 33 in January and Maurice Jones-Drew is beginning to get most of the workload.
Jones-Drew, seeking a new contract, has 503 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. He also has caught 40 passes for 393 yards.
Taylor has carried 14 or more times only twice in 11 games. He has less than 50 yards rushing in eight games and played just 22 snaps Sunday against Minnesota.
"Y'all see it. Y'all know how my playing time is," Taylor said. "It's not a military secret. But I'm a competitor. I want those opportunities like I've always got them. I don't want you to give them to me. I want to earn them."
Del Rio sidestepped questions about Taylor's future.
"I can tell you that we haven't turned our attention to making decisions about our roster going forward," Del Rio said. "Fred's been a great pro here, continues to be a great pro. We'll work through issues like that when it's time. I think more than anything he's probably expressing frustration over not having the kind of year we all hoped we would have."
Taylor, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, is 18th on the NFL's career rushing list. He has 11,151 yards, 86 behind O.J. Simpson. Taylor badly wants to reach 12,000 before calling it quits. He had a shot at getting there this season.
Now, though, he might have to accomplish it elsewhere.
"We have to prepare for what will come next," Taylor said. "My only concern is whether it's here or somewhere in the NFL. I don't want people to think I'm in the mode to retire because I'm not. I don't want anyone to think that I'm not passionate and I don't want anyone to think my skills have diminished.
"I still think I can compete on a higher level with those opportunities. That's why I said I would play somewhere. This being my first option by far, trust me, but I've got to play football. At this point, it seems like that's all I know how to do almost."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press