All offseason it was apparent that Maurice Jones-Drew wouldn’t be reporting to the Jaguars’ training camp without a new contract. So when a new contract didn’t land in MJD’s hands and then he consequently didn’t land in Jacksonville, no one was surprised.
But given the rigid attitude of new Jaguars owner Shad Khan and Jones-Drew’s minimal leverage since he’s still under contract for two more seasons, in July it felt reasonable to assume that he would sit out into mid August — long enough to make his point — and then report to the team.
Welp, now after Khan’s most recent remarks about a train and its imminent departure, it seems another option has emerged: playing somewhere else.
Khan has repeatedly said that he has no intention whatsoever of restructuring Jones-Drew’s contract, basically saying that his give-a-shit level regarding his running back’s holdout is on par with how much we assume he cares about the acrobatic Bandbaz brothers who will be flying gracefully tonight on everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure, America’s got Talent. Earlier this week Khan said that in his mind, Jones-Drew’s holdout “doesn’t even move the needle“.
But that wasn’t even his best salvo, as today he said that Jones-Drew needs to mount his figurative caboose or else it’ll leave the station, and then he’ll be little more than a homeless bum, or something. And that led to this…
This is briefly awesome from a fantasy perspective, but mostly depressing. The former because imaginations are fun, gleeful places, and the latter because reality is a horrible jerk.
About that reality: Jones-Drew is an incredible talent, and therefore in the unlikely event that Khan and the Jags cave and attempt to trade him instead of allowing their most valuable asset to watch games from home on Sundays like the rest of us, their asking price will be mountainous. That’s their right if they were to openly shop the league’s defending rushing champ, and an RB who had 1,980 yards from scrimmage last year on a team quarterbacked by Blaine friggin Gabbert.
As incredible as he is, the reason why the Jaguars don’t want to pay him is identical to the reason they likely won’t get an acceptable return on the trade market. He’s 27 years old, and has had 300 or more carries for three straight seasons. Yes, nit-pickers, he actually had 299 two years ago, but the point remains. Like so many before him, he comes with the danger of being a Ferrari that will offer the performance of a Pinto soon enough.
But let’s set those imaginations free for a minute. Jones-Drew playing anywhere means he’s, well, playing, which is much better than him potentially missing the first 10 games of the season while sitting out. And if MJD is munching cheetos on his La-Z-Boy just like I do every Sunday for 12 hours, he’s not helping your weekly bottom line much.
So yeah, there’s that. Playing > not playing.
Loosening that imagination leash even further, what are the best possible destinations for a Jones-Drew landing that put him in a prime situation for more elite production? Three ideas…
Cincinnati: He’d be an upgrade over BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and he’d have something he sorely lacked in Jacksonville even while posting gaudy numbers: support from the passing game through Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.
Indianapolis: A similar situation here. If MJD were available, the Colts should be willing to abandon the failed Donald Brown and Delone Carter experiments. The few prime rushing years Jones-Drew has left would then be seen as an investment in Andrew Luck’s future, with the rookie supported strongly by an elite rusher. Also, it’s looking very much like Luck will lead a far more competent passing attack in his rookie year than Gabbert did. Fewer men in the box defensively means more points on your weekly scoreboard.
Detroit: Mmmmm. That’s the taste of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson forming a three-headed monster mega offense. The need is definitely here too, with Mikel LeShoure both unable to stay healthy, and unable to keep weed out of his mouth, while Jahvid Best’s return from a concussion is nowhere in sight. How long can you really roll with Kevin Smith?
That was fun. And now we return you to the cold, dark possibility of a fantasyland without Maurice Jones-Drew for maybe over half of the NFL season. Stay safe out there.