Breaking Down Maurice Jones-Drew's Standoff with Jaguars
The always turning drama of Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Jones-Drew is now open to being traded following the comments made publicly by owner Shahid Khan.
According to one national pundit stationed in Jacksonville, the Jaguars running back could be reporting to camp soon.
Although it does not appear that he is actually reporting anything, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports tweeted the following Tuesday morning:
Feeling inside Jaguars locker room is Maurice Jones Drew shows up soon
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) August 21, 2012
Jones-Drew showing up now would be just another interesting twist in a summer filled to the brim with them so far in Jacksonville.
Let's run down the timeline of Jones-Drew's standoff with the Jaguars so far.
Prisco first reported in mid-April that Jones-Drew would skip the Jaguars' voluntary offseason workouts in hopes of accelerating talks for a new contract.
Jones-Drew was the eighth-highest paid running back back in April, but he's since dropped to No. 9, according to Sportac's NFL contract database. That was never going to sit well with Jones-Drew after leading the NFL in rushing a season ago.
Fast forward to mid-May, and Jones-Drew was again absent, this time from Jaguars' organized team activities (OTAs). While it was an aggressive move from Jones-Drew, many were yet to predict that he would miss any time once camp got close.
That moment came a month later, when Jones-Drew skipped the team's mandatory three-day minicamp, resulting in a $60,000 fine. By sacrificing money, Jones-Drew made his first real statement that a holdout was a serious possibility.
Throughout the process, however, Jaguars management have held their ground on not giving Jones-Drew a new deal. With him under contract on a five-year, $32 million deal, Jacksonville have had little incentive to cave on Jones-Drew's demands—and that remains true today.
Jaguars owner Shahid Khan on Jones-Drew, via Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union:
There’s no decision here. It’s his choice. There’s been very little for us to do rather than wait on whatever he might choose to do...There’s more than 50 players under contract. There are other people under contract in management, coaches. Does that mean if you do it for one, you do it for everybody. Where do you draw the line?’
Those comments came just before the Jaguars opened training camp. Yet a month later, nothing in Khan's voice makes it appear as if anything has changed.
Khan's comments last week, via Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports:
He’s not here, and that’s his decision. Believe me, it’s not a great concern. You hope for the best, and you plan for the worst. Our goals for the season don’t change, and if he isn’t here, he isn’t here. I don’t control it. It’s his choice...Believe me, on a zero-to-10 level of stress, this doesn’t even move the needle.
The preseason has spawned an entirely new dynamic in the leverage situation, as second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert appears to have improved by leaps and bounds and the Jaguars running game has yet to suffer with emerging back Rashad Jennings carrying the load.
Through two exhibition contests, Gabbert has a passer rating well over 100 with three touchdown passes, and Jennings is sporting a 5.1 yards-per-carry average. Friday night in New Orleans, Jacksonville's first-team offense scored 17 first-half points.
At a previous junction, the Jaguars' potential offensive ineptitude without Jones-Drew was a major bargaining chip for a new deal. Now it appears as if the Jaguars could survive for a period of time without Jones-Drew.
I went into more detail on that evolving dynamic in a column here.
When push comes to shove, Jones-Drew will likely be the one who caves first. The Jaguars simply do not have the incentive to get a new deal done for a back who won't be a free agent until 2014.
And with the emergence of both Gabbert and Jennings, there's no rush from ownership's side. The team can simply wait out Jones-Drew until he has the monetary incentive to return to the team.
Prisco's tweet doesn't appear to be a piece of reporting, per se, but few would be surprised if he's not entirely accurate over the course of the next few weeks.
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