As of right now, the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2012 season is on the fritz. According to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, running back Maurice Jones-Drew is not going to participate in the team's offseason workouts:
Maurice Jones-Drew has reportedly made the decision not to attend the Jacksonville Jaguars voluntary minicamp.
It has something to do with a new contract.
For the past couple of months, I've been hearing from team sources that Jones-Drew has been talking about a new deal.
For the sake of the franchise, the Jaguars must restructure the contract of Jones Drew. He's arguably the NFL's best running back and the Jaguars have no shot at the AFC South division title or postseason without him.
MJD led the league in rushing last season despite being backed by the NFL's worst passing offense. In addition, he totaled almost 2,000 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
By bringing in Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans, Jacksonville has greatly improved its receiving corps heading into 2012. In addition, quarterback Blaine Gabbert will likely benefit under the guidance of new head coach Mike Mularkey. Lest we forget, Mularkey was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons when Matt Ryan was a rookie.
Though Mularkey will help bring Gabbert up to speed, retaining Jones-Drew for the long haul will ensure the team's success for years to come. Jacksonville already fields a top 10 defense with top-five overall potential for 2012.
Reaching a new deal with MJD has to be a top priority after seeing what happened with Chris Johnson in Tennessee last season when he held out. Johnson started off slow, the Titans never hit a rhythm in the rushing offense and it cost them a spot in the postseason.
The Jaguars have the opportunity to contend for the division and possible the AFC title with Jones-Drew doing work in the backfield. Only 27 years old, Jones-Drew has the toughness and durability to last as Jacksonville's feature back for the next four-to-five years. Not to mention he is coming off arguably the best season of his career.
With an improved passing offense, a stellar defense and plenty of prospects coming in via the draft, Jacksonville will field one of the league's most complete teams in 2012. The absence of Jones-Drew would make everything this offseason for naught.
That is, unless a restructure gets done.
If the Jaguars can't get a new deal done, their 2012 campaign will be a frustrating one to follow.
John Rozum on Twitter.