The Saga of Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones Drew
Written by Curt Popejoy on 08/02/2012
So, I am listening to ESPN Radio the other night and I hear that Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has decided to hold out for a new contract, with 2 years remaining on his current contract extension that he signed in 2009. This is a contract that is set to pay him over $4 million per for the final 2 seasons. A contract that he agreed to, and to the best of my knowledge with no threat or coercion.
Now we fast forward 3 very good statistical seasons for MJD and he wants to get paid. He was given the keys to the running game starting in 2009 after Fred Taylor left for New England and has averaged 1,440 yards per game the past 3 seasons. He’s been a very impressive back without a doubt. But he doesn’t deserve a raise.
I’m glad to see that Jaguars ownership has said they don’t re-negotiate with players with 2 years remaining on their contracts. Now, if they cave and give him a new deal this year, their credibility will take a hit but for now I am on board with this hard line approach. And here is why.
I keep reading and hearing people use the term “the market” when talking about the raise that MJD will get. They see the new deals that guys like Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson got and say that the market indicates because of his statistics he should get paid like that. But I don’t think that’s how “the market” in the NFL works best.
There should really be 2 ways ownership looks at the “value” of a player. How many games the team wins because of them, and how many tickets they sell because of them. Looking back at the 3 seasons since MJD has signed the contract, the Jaguars have done 2 things. They’ve gone 20-38, and they’ve consistently under filled EverBank Stadium. In 2011 the Jaguars were around 10,000 under capacity every week and in many cases had to have the team purchase tickets themselves just to get their games televised. So what exactly is the market for him? I have never understood the mentality because one business owner overpays for a player, it creates an obligation for other owners to do so.
So if MJD for all his talent can’t move the needle with fans, and can’t move the needle with wins, what is his true “value”? I respect the fact that Jones Drew wants to get his money due to the short shelf life of NFL running backs. He turned 27 this year, and so he realistically has one more good contract left in him, so he wants to maximize it.
But I’m not sure why the Jags would want to honor his request. He has a perfectly good contract that both sides agreed to. Is this a case of MJD is worried his production is going to fall off? Are the Jags concerned with that? The next steps that MJD should do is to find his way to training camp and play hard. Play out another great statistical year with very little to show for it or fans to watch it, and then sit down with the owners and work out an extension.
I have always liked watching MJD run. He’s the kind of football player that young players want to aspire to be. But that doesn’t change that fact that with 2 years left on his second contract, he has more responsibility to play than ownership has to give him a raise. The Jaguars have made the playoffs exactly once in MJD’s 6 seasons, and that year he was a backup. If he’s loyal to the Jags, then get on the field and play. If he’s tired of losing, say so and let the Jags deal you and get something out of it. Either way something has to give. And not that MJD cares, but holdouts never endear you to the fans. You hold out, and then struggle, you are going to hear it.
Personally, I think that any player as talented as Jones Drew should want to win a Super Bowl, and the hard fact is, the odds of the Jags winning a Super Bowl while he’s on the roster is slim. Being loyal to Jacksonville is great, but doing it while holding them hostage for a big contract is another. It’s counter intuitive for a team’s best player to demand more money and in essence handcuff them further from improving. This is a no win situation for both these sides. If ownership caves, they look bad and they now have an overpaid 27 year old feature back on a bad team. Holdouts are always ugly and this one looks to just be getting started. Be the bigger man MJD, help out your young quarterback and get on the field. You show you can make this team better this season, the money will be there.
Last Edited: 08/02/2012