Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is set to have surgery on his back to repair a herniated disk, stemming from the injury he suffered in training camp while on the Jaguars roster earlier this season. Garrard missed a little over a week of practice and the first preseason game because of his back injury, but was cleared to play by team doctors and went back to practice, playing in the final three preseason games. The Tuesday before the opening game against the Tennessee Titans, the Jaguars decided to part ways with Garrard in favor of Luke McCown, informing Garrard of his release.
Recently, Garrard was rumored to have interest from the Miami Dolphins but declined their offer to wait for a better one. Then he was contacted by the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night and news broke today that Garrard would need season ending surgery on his back. This came as a surprise to most, but according to David Garrard's agent, the Jaguars knew all along and released him to skirt paying him.
"At $500,000 per game, they knew he would be down 4-6 weeks. They didn't want to pay that bill," Irby wrote. "Now you know the difference between a first-class organization like Indy, and a sorry organization like the Jags. Indy gave their QB a contract even though he couldn't play all season. ... David was told his back was fine. So he took them for their word," Al Irby, Garrard's agent, told the Florida Times-Union in an e-mail late last night. "David was told his back was fine. So he took them for their word. Now he has to go to surgery, and Jacksonville is saying, 'Not my problem.' What a first class organization!," Irby wrote.
Irby is essentially accusing the Jaguars of cutting Garrard to save $2 million to $3 million. That's a low amount of savings for the potential risk of what Irby's accused.
To me, this whole thing sounds like sour grapes. It's too late for Garrard to file a grievance with the NFLPA to claim that he was released while injured. Typically if a player is released while injured, a team will have to either place them on injured reserve or reach an injury settlement. Accusing the Jaguars of knowing Garrard's back would require surgery, yet hiding it from him and cutting him just to save money is a pretty serious accusation. The Jaguars have never, ever played that way to my knowledge and I don't see why they would play that way with David Garrard.
Not only that, but prior to the season Garrard admitted that he hadn't got the normal treatment on his chronic back issues that he normally did because of the lockout. If Garrard didn't feel fine, he should have said something about it. Even if the doctor's told him he was ok and he was still feeling discomfort, he should have said something. "I rehabbed myself until my back was well enough that I could start playing again," Garrard told the Florida Times-Union. "When I was telling everybody my back was fine, my back did feel fine. But my leg never felt fine. I never really considered that my leg was connected to the disk in my back."
Again, if Garrard was bothered by pain or discomfort anywhere, why didn't he consult the team doctors about his leg? I find it hard to believe the Jaguars doctors are dubious enough to shuffle him along and lie to him that everything was fine.
Jaguars general manager was contacted for comment by the Florida Times Union, and responded via e-mail saying, "David went through the standard process that all players go through when released."