Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jaguars, Jones-Drew in a Sticky Situation

Last season the 27-year old, three-time All Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew captured his first rushing title of his six year NFL career with the Jags.

This season, MJD finds himself in a pickle. Unhappy with his current contract, which expires following the 2013 season, Jones-Drew has made the decision to holdout of the start of training camp.

Jacksonville kicked off day one of training camp earlier today without Jones-Drew and rookie wideout Justin Blackmon, the No. 5 overall draft pick in April. Blackmon pleaded guilty Tuesday on a drunken driving charge in Oklahoma on June 3. Blackmon remains unsigned by the Jags and seems to be the least of Jacksonville's troubles at this point in time.

Jones-Drew, however, will likely cause the front office quite a few headaches.

While he does still have two years left on his current five year contract, MJD has shown clear disgust with the franchise and will be pushing for an extension. Reporter Steve Wyche of the NFL Network has reported that Jones-Drew is prepared to holdout throughout the entire training camp.
Bad news for the Jaguars, indeed. But the Jags owner, Shad Khan, has gone out on a limb and basically said that they will not be budging. The decision (on reporting to training camp) is solely up to Jones-Drew, and it looks as if the two sides could be in a stalemate.

In 2009, Jones-Drew signed a contract extension worth $31 million over four years, which made him one of the three highest-paid running backs. The mega-deals that Ray Rice, Arian Foster and Matt Forte signed this off-season may have made an impact on Jones-Drew's stance on his contract.

For this coming season, Jones-Drew is lined up to rake in $4.45 million (with a signing bonus of $3.5 million). Compared to Tennessee's Chris Johnson and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, that's more than $4 million less this season alone.

In essence, it's tough to blame MJD for wanting more money when you consider that he's been the bulk of Jacksonville's offense for the past three seasons, and the league's leading rusher is making far less than other running backs of his elite status.

But, at the same time it's easy to understand the front office's stance as well. They already have quite a few other players to worry about who will be unrestricted free agents an entire year before Maurice. And Jones-Drew has already signed one extension on this current contract.

On the surface it appears as though that's all Jones-Drew is worried about in this situation, but I think there's a deeper reason behind it all. Certainty and commitment on both ends could be an additional factor in his plea for an extension, as well as financial stability. Knowing he'll be locked up and provided a fair sum of money would bring happiness and allow for him to fully commit to the Jaguars.

If I was in Khan's shoes, I would ride this one out and see if Jones-Drew caves. The Jaguars have plenty of other things to worry about before the regular season rolls around. MJD will be in uniform prior to the regular season kickoff, you can quote me on that. Although if/when MJD does finally report, the situation will not go away.

We could be in for a wild ride down in Jacksonville. Might as well buckle up your seat belts now, people.

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