Breaking Down Maurice Jones-Drew and His Potential Training Camp Holdout

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Breaking Down Maurice Jones-Drew and His Potential Training Camp Holdout
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Possibly the most toxic holdout that looms over 2012 NFL training camps is in Jacksonville, where running back Maurice Jones-Drew is considering missing all of camp in hopes of getting a better deal. 

News coming out of Jacksonville regarding Jones-Drew's decision has been thick lately. 

In late June, the Florida Times-Union reported—citing sources with knowledge of Jones-Drew's thinking— that the running back could even miss regular season games in his attempt to get a new contract.

John Clayton then reported on SportsCenter in early July that Jones-Drew would report to camp on time because no new deal was coming his way, via Rotoworld.com

But hold on, it gets better. 

Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, whom Jones-Drew has been working out with Florida, told 1010 AM radio in Jacksonville Thursday that Jones-Drew will not report to training camp on time. 

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports also wrote on Twitter Thursday that there is "no consideration" from the Jaguars' side about giving Jones-Drew a new deal. 

Everyone seems to have an opinion on what Jones-Drew should or will do, but we won't know for certain until the Jaguars open camp next week. 

Until then, let's break down Jones-Drew's case for a new contract and why the Jaguars may not want to cave on those demands. 

 

Why Jones-Drew wants a new deal

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

There's several fairly obvious reasons why Jones-Drew is asking for a new contract. 

After a season in which he led the NFL in rushing with over 1,600 yards, Jones-Drew watched this offseason as several of his fellow peers cashed in on big deals. 

Here is a quick sample of the running backs who have gotten new deals recently and what their new contracts include:

  • LeSean McCoy, Eagles: Six years, $45.615 million, with $20.875 million in guarantees.
  • Matt Forte, Bears: Four years, $30.4 million, with $13.8 million in guarantees. 
  • Arian Foster, Texans: Five years, $43.5 million, with $20.75 million in guarantees. 
  • Ray Rice, Ravens: Five years, $35 million, with $24 million in guarantees. 
  • Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Seven years, $96 million, $36 million in guarantees.
  • Chris Johnson, Titans: Six years, $55.26 million, with $30 million in guarantees. 

Jones-Drew's deal is in the fourth year of a five-year $30.95 million contract that he signed in April of 2009. The guaranteed money was just $17.5 million. 

In summary: All but Forte's deal beats Jones-Drew in total money and guarantees. The rest of Jones-Drew's peers are making considerably more money both in guarantees and total dollars. 

Overall, over the next two seasons, Jones-Drew will make just $9.40 million. Forte would have made almost $8 million in 2012 had he stayed on the one-year franchise tender for running backs. 

But Jones-Drew's want for a deal likely goes beyond just money. Consideration for his future and the future of the position probably weighs heavily too. 

At 27 years old, Jones-Drew is far from ancient in terms of running backs go. But he's slowly creeping up on the benchmark age of 30, when teams star shying away from big contracts for backs and looking for replacements. 

By the time Jones-Drew's deal expires, he'll be 29. 

And if Jones-Drew continues on his current pace of over 325 total touches a season over the next two, he'll be well over the 2,000 mark for his career. In this day and age of professional football, 2,000 carries is a lot for coaches and decision-makers to consider. 

Jones-Drew can obviously do the math too.  

He's underpaid right now in comparison to his peers, who he also outperformed last season despite being the lone offensive weapon residing in Jacksonville. He'll be nearly 30 when his current contract expires, and by then, his effectiveness could drop significantly with the regular wear and tear. 

Those three factors together equal a pretty convincing argument for Jones-Drew to hold out of training camp (or longer) to get a new deal. If not now, then when? 

 

Why the Jaguars are resisting a new deal

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Each NFL franchise wants to reward players for outstanding work, and I'm sure the Jaguars are no different here. But GM Gene Smith can see exactly what Jones-Drew is seeing in terms of a new deal. 

As it stands currently, Jones-Drew is a tremendous bargain for the Jaguars. If his deal is redone, Jones-Drew could become a big strain on the salary cap in future years—especially if he begins to wear down like many backs do as they reach the age of 30. 

And considering that Smith has Jones-Drew under contract for two more years, there's no real rush to get another deal done. At some point, Jones-Drew is going to be back. He won't sacrifice the money he's due in 2012 to sit out the entire season. 

Smith is simply playing the odds. The leverage is almost all in Smith's corner. 

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