Jacksonville Jaguars Right to Hold Firm on Maurice Jones-Drew Contract

Brian Kinel@sprtsramblngmanCorrespondent IIIApril 5, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Running back Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes upfield against the Indianapolis Colts January 1, 2012 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Maurice Jones-Drew thinks he has outperformed his current contract. It rankles him that, as the defending NFL rushing champion, he is the third-highest-paid running back in his own division.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has been very public with his stance that he won’t give MJD any more money. As he told the Florida Times-Union's Gene Frenette, “Train is leaving the station. Run, get on it.”

Khan shouldn’t give Jones-Drew more money. But not for the reason you might think.

Let’s get the elephant in the room discussion out of the way. Jones-Drew signed an extension in 2009 that still has two years left at a total of about $9 million. Normally, I am of the opinion that contracts should be honored. Except when it comes to the NFL.

Contracts in the NFL are one way. Teams can cut players anytime and not have to pay them the entire contract, depending on how much was guaranteed. Just ask Kahlil Bell, formerly of the Chicago Bears.

Bell signed a $1.26 million tender in the spring, a decent salary for a second-string running back. But the Bears then signed Michael Bush, pushing Bell to third-string. Suddenly, it was not such a good deal in a salary cap league for the Bears. When Bell refused to take a pay cut, the Bears released him.

So if teams can get out from contracts, players have the right to re-negotiate in the middle of one if they have outperformed it.

If they have leverage. Maurice doesn’t.

I will stipulate that Jones-Drew is outstanding and easily the best player and draw the Jaguars have. But he recently turned 27 years old and, while he has some good years left, I’m not sure how many beyond the remaining two years on his contract.

Remember that the NFL is a salary cap league. Every dollar spent is a dollar that can’t be spent elsewhere. You have to be conscious of that when putting together your team. Kahlil Bell was worth $1.26 million to the Bears as their second running back, but not as their third.

Running back is the most punishing position in the NFL, with the shortest average career length. It’s also a position that is losing a bit of its importance as the league becomes more and more focused on passing. Fewer and fewer teams are relying on one back, and they can be found late in the draft.

Given these facts, it’s crazy to give running backs huge contracts. I think the Vikings and Titans will be sorry they ponyed up as much as they did for Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson respectively.

This is why the Jaguars are taking their hold the line stance. $9 million over the next two years is good for them, and they don’t see value to giving Jones-Drew more at the age of 29. That’s their right.

It’s also Jones-Drew’s right to ask for more, but he has no leverage to get it. He has floated the idea of a trade and that’s probably in everyone’s best interest. Pittsburgh, Detroit and Green Bay are teams that would be interested in MJD.

What will happen? A trade would give the Jaguars something in return for a terrific asset, which is much better than his walking away in two years with them getting nothing in return.

As far as Jones-Drew’s holdout is concerned, it’s very costly at a fine of $30,000 per day. There is a point that he will lose the year in terms of ability to be a free-agent, so he will report before that time. For you fantasy owners, I would worry about his production this year.


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