The initial reaction I'm getting on the release of Jacksonville Jaguars veteran defensive end Reggie Hayward is shock and surprise.
It really shouldn't be all that surprising.
Hayward was always a good soldier for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but his career was set back by season ending injuries, both of which occurred at the start of the season. Not to mention he was in a battle with a high priced free agent and a plethora of young players on a team looking to rebuild.The Jaguars signed Reggie Hayward in free agency in the 2005 off-season. He was considered an under the radar type signing that could pay off for the Jaguars, and initially it did. Hayward produced in 2005 with 8.5 sacks and 57 quarterback pressures, both of which led the team. In 2006 however, his career seemingly took a turn for the worse. He tore his Achilles tendon in the first regular season game of 2006 vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
An Achilles tendon tear for a defensive end is brutal. It severely limits a players ability to get off the ball, and quickness off the snap for a defensive end is critical.
Hayward returned in 2007, but was clearly not himself. He only played in 12 games and wound up with only 3.5 sacks. It looked like in 2008 Hayward was making his come back as he got better each week and ended the season with a team high 4.5 sacks.
Then 2009 struck. Again, in the opening game against the Indianapolis Colts, Hayward suffered a broken left leg on the final defensive play of the fourth quarter.
The release of Reggie Hayward, while sad because he is a very likable character and a good player, should be seen as a positive for the Jaguars. If the Jaguars were comfortable enough to release Hayward before the pads even went on, it means good things.
It likely means that free agent signing Aaron Kampman is ahead of schedule recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season with the Green Bay Packers. It also likely means that much maligned and scrutinized former 8th overall pick Derrick Harvey is progressing how the coaching staff and front office would like.
It also means the Jaguars are confident in the young talent they've brought onto the roster in Austen Lane and Larry Hart. Hart specifically has drawn lots of praise, albeit without pads, but praise none the less.
So, take the shocking release of Reggie Hayward as a good sign. Besides, I'm pretty sure Hayward has a nice career in broadcasting ahead of him.