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  Time for Taylor to Retire
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Jason Taylor was released this past week by the Washington Redskins, just one season removed from a trade whereby the Skins sent a 2009 second round pick and a 2010 sixth round pick to the Miami Dolphins for their all-time greatest defender. The official reason for the release was that Taylor refused to commit to the team's offseason conditioning program, this after spending a good portion of the 2008 season injured (calf) and thus limited in his ability to produce.


The Redskins were completely justified in their insistence that Taylor get with their program at an acceptable level. Though he showed up to camp in great cardiovascular shape, one questions if he was truly in great football shape. This, more than anything else, could have been the cause of his injured-plagued season.


The Redskins suspected that another spring and summer of offsite training would probably yield the same result, so they cut him.


Said Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, “Jason Taylor was a real professional during his time with the Redskins. He played hurt, but still gave his best effort to be prepared and play hard every week. We wish him and his family the very best.” The move will save the Redskins about $8 million in 2009.


Zorn was being kind, of course. Had he been blunt, he’d have conceded that Taylor was a bust. What else to say when a team gives up second and sixth round picks for a potential Hall of Fame defensive end, but gains 36 tackles and 3.5 sacks in return?


So what’s next for the man we call “JT”? Taylor says he is now at a point in his life where he wants to spend more time with his family and less around football. He wants to spend the offseason in South Florida or elsewhere, anywhere but the Redskins' training facility in Ashburn, VA. His agent, Gary Wichard, told The Miami Herald’s David J. Neal that it was “too early” to say what Taylor’s next move will be.


JT, here’s a suggestion: retire. Retire and enjoy your family, your money, and (hopefully) a successful acting career. You’ve had one foot in the door now for a year or more. It’s time to walk on through.


Look, this is not the first time that we've seen evidence that football is no longer of prime professional importance to Taylor. Last year, Taylor packed up his family and re-located to Los Angeles, eschewing the Dolphins’ offseason conditioning program, so that he could devote himself full time to Dancing With The Stars. It was this significant non-football commitment, together with Taylor’s request for a trade, which likely prompted Bill Parcells to believe that Taylor's focus on the game might be waning and that a trade would indeed be in everyone’s best interest.


Now that Taylor is a free agent, many think the Dolphins should re-sign him.


For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that Taylor would be willing to play for a cap-friendly deal, a very BIG assumption in and of itself. The following questions would have to be answered to the Dolphins’ satisfaction for any reunion to be considered.


1) Taylor would have to convince Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano that his heart is still in the game at a level they would demand. They know that when a player begins to act like he's going to retire soon, the chances are decent that he has already done so mentally. DWTS and now Taylor’s desire to spend more time with his family is evidence that this could be the case. Is it?


2) Where would Taylor line up? Joey Porter has since assumed JT's role at weak-side LB, quite successfully, and Taylor is too small to play DE full time in the 3-4. The only options would be at strong-side OLB, opposite Porter, where Matt Roth lined up in 2008 (and Porter played in 2007), or as a situational pass rusher. Would JT be satisfied with either of these roles at this point in his career?


3) Team leadership. The Dolphins aren't Jason Taylor's team anymore. Chad Pennington and Porter have taken the reigns now and their team won an AFC East Championship. Would it be awkward for Taylor to come back and accept a lesser role under these circumstances?


So yes, the Dolphins might have interest in bringing him back, though it is difficult right now to see how this could come to pass. He would have to be willing to jump through ALL of the above mentioned hoops, and probably others that Parcells would insist on, in order to don his #99 Dolphin jersey once again. There’s little evidence right now to suggest that JT would be interested in doing it, even though it might give him the chance to end his career on the field on a more positive note.


Is it conceivable that he would agree to play with yet another team, in yet another city, with no better a guarantee of a championship than he had in Washington? As Wichard said, it’s “too early” to tell.


It’s truly unfortunate that things in Washington didn't work out for JT the way he had hoped. He probably wishes that he had kept his mouth shut, the proverbial “grass isn’t greener on the other side” lesson forever ringing in his head.


When a player of Taylor’s stature makes a mess of his football future, his options become few and imperfect. It’s sad but true. If Taylor’s commitment to becoming an actor remains strong, and his desire for football has truly weakened, then the writing on the wall is crystal clear.


It's time to hang up the cleats for good.

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