For David Garrard, His Time to Shine is Now
With Manning’s outrageous contract, I have pondered whether Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is worth the deal he signed in April 2008.
On that Monday in April, Garrard signed with the Jags for seven years and $60 million. Prior to that agreement, the Jaguars quarterback was earning approximately $2 million per year, which is fool’s gold for an NFL starting quarterback.
So, with a John Hancock to ink the deal, Garrard was guaranteed almost $20 million, including a $9 million signing bonus.
For the most part, history has shown that contracts are rewards for past performance.
Recent examples are Maurice Jones-Drew’s contract extension in April (four years, $32.8 million) and Urban Meyer’s new deal finalized last Monday (six years, $24 million). Both are now generously compensated for their successes in past seasons.
When Garrard was signed, I believe it was because of his history. His 2007 stats (12 starts, 64.0 completion percentage, 2,509 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions) warranted his earning more than the previously agreed-upon $2 million.
After a deflating 2008 season and 5-11 finish, Jacksonville needs Garrard to be the field general. While most contracts reflect a player or coach’s history, success needs to be shown down the road. Expectations are high for long-term improvement.
I have no doubt Garrard is capable of leading the Jaguars down such a road to success. Losing close to 20 pounds this offseason, the 31-year-old Garrard looks leaner and fitter than ever.
If one gauged Garrard on his physical presence alone, he would be a top-ten quarterback. His biceps would impress former Jaguar Carnell Lake. And, Garrard’s powerful thighs are evidence that he may have been striving in workouts to match Hall of Famer Earl Campbell. Garrard is a true physical specimen. He is physically ready for the field and mentally prepared to lead.
While quarterback physicality is a discussion topic, the real measure is number of wins. And with a 5-11 regular-season record from last season, the pressure is on for Garrard to perform. It’s showtime.
If Garrard can lead this team effectively during what is being deemed a “rebuilding" year, he will earn every penny of his contract.
For the first time ever, Garrard has a proven No. 1 wide receiver in Torry Holt, a ten-year veteran. Holt has the ability to catch every ball thrown his way.
From what I’ve seen on the practice field, in addition to Holt, this year’s crop of rookie receivers will aid Garrard in his progression as the team’s leader.
And, if Garrard can receive help from a healthy offensive line, this season will not be compared to last season.
Last year, Garrard was the third most-sacked quarterback in the league. At 42 total sacks, he was slightly behind Matt Cassel, formerly of the New England Patriots, with 47 and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger with 46.
Along with the number of sacks allowed, out of all the quarterbacks last year, Garrard led the NFL with the most sack yards (288). That is an average of 6.86 yards lost per sack.
Now with more protection, Garrard has the potential to stay off his back and make more plays... maybe repeating his 2007 season.
That year, Garrard was third in the league with a 102.2 quarterback rating. He followed Super Bowl champions Tom Brady and Roethlisberger. Back then Garrard actually led the NFL in lowest interception percentage with 0.9.
For Garrard, his time to shine is now. He has all the physical tools and is surrounded by young talent. He can get the Jaguars back on track.
After this season, Garrard will show that his 2008 deal was financially sound for both him and the Jaguars.
With the first Jaguars preseason game against the Miami Dolphins quickly approaching, the QB still has time to mentally prepare to lead his team.
And, hopefully, as I watch the game in Miami, I will see the extensive Jaguar preparations unfold in such a manner that Jacksonville will feel confident that David Garrard can be the team’s field general and earn his money.