As a self-proclaimed NBA communist, I berate several athletes per day for being selfish. It is the one trait in athletes that I simply can't stand. In the case of Jacksonville Jaguars star Maurice Jones-Drew, though, I'm willing to make an exception.
Jones-Drew signed a deal in 2009 that was below market value since, as a second-round pick, he didn't get a big contract as a rookie. He had to make sure he guaranteed himself some money in case of an injury.
Shahid Khan's refusal to give MJD a new contract out of some misplaced notion of the meaning of a contract is completely asinine. By that logic, he shouldn't be able to cut any of his players.
Contracts in the NFL are meant to broken. If owners have the right to release players who under-perform, then players who over-perform should have the right to negotiate a new deal. Owners can't have it both ways.
What makes even less sense is MJD's particular situation.
Jones-Drew has never been arrested or suspended. He's been a consummate pro his entire career. Teammates never complain about him, coaches rave about him. If anyone has proven they deserve fair treatment, it's him.
What's more is that the Jaguars can't exactly be picky about stars. He's their only one. This is a team so desperate for star power and hype that it not only attempted to trade for Tim Tebow, but practically begged HBO's Hard Knocks to feature it.
Jones-Drew has spent most of his career as the only star on terrible teams. He has risked injury and potentially lost contractual value due to Jacksonville's completely inability to pass the ball. He has made the playoffs only twice in his career—never as a serious contender. He has been everything the organization has asked him to be and more, from face of the franchise to leader of the offense.
Whether he's under contract or not, he deserves to be paid. What kind of message is Khan sending by refusing to pay him of all people?
The football side of things makes just as little sense. Jones-Drew is only 27. Thanks to Fred Taylor, he doesn't have nearly as many carries on his odometer as other backs his age. He should be a top-tier back for at least four or five more years. He's the sort of back that can really earn his next deal.
The recent reports that MJD would accept a trade are refreshing to me. If the Jaguars don't appreciate what MJD does for them, someone else will. Plenty of teams would be happy to pay him what he deserves.
If the Jaguars don't, well, I hope they enjoy obscurity. Because that's where they'll stay for quite some time.
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