Tensions appear to be rising as high as the humidity in Jacksonville, and as ESPN.com states, "Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout appears to be far from over."
MJD's agent, Adisa Bakari, issued the following statement yesterday, confirming that MJD is displeased and upset with Shad Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Maurice wants to play for an organization that wants him and for an owner who respects him and values what he brings to a team—on the field, in the locker room and in the community."
This news is certainly revelatory, as MJD has been one of the league's most consistent running backs over the past three seasons. In six NFL seasons, Jones-Drew has done nothing but impress, surprise and overachieve.
If the statements made my Bakari do hold true, and if in fact MJD is unhappy with his situation in Jacksonville, he will have many courting suitors.
The Denver Broncos have not come up much as far as potential bidders go, but there are quite a few reasons why the possibility of sending running back Knowshon Moreno to Jacksonville for MJD is logical and feasible.
The first is that Knowshon Moreno is currently getting paid more than he can produce. The Denver Broncos still owe Moreno approximately a quarter of his $16.7 million contract that he signed as a rookie.
The first-round draft pick made the most money of his five-year-deal as a league sophomore in 2010. In layman's terms, Denver owes more than $4 million to a guy who currently sits at third or fourth on the depth chart.
Talk has been circulating around the Mile High City that Moreno might not even make the team. If there really is no spot for Moreno in Denver, the team would be wise to acquire some talent via his dismissal.
Despite Moreno's lack-of-fit in Denver, the fourth-year back is far from talentless. Moreno ran through SEC defenses like a madman while at Georgia, and in his rookie year, he fell just short of the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
Since then, however, Moreno has struggled to stay healthy and has been outperformed by veteran back Willis McGahee and dual-threat back Lance Ball. Last season, Moreno was a non-factor, with only 179 rushing yards.
Moreno, due to his inability to perform, has been bullied out of the starting role in Denver, but in Jacksonville, Moreno would have the opportunity to display his talent and revive his career. An NFL team is much like a puzzle, and certain pieces can only fit in certain areas.
Secondly, Denver's new defensive coordinator for the 2012 season is none other than former Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio. Del Rio coached MJD for all six years of his NFL career, and the two have a very good rapport with one another.
While Del Rio will be strictly running the defense in Denver, he will act as a leader and senior figure in the organization, and his familiarity with Jones-Drew can do nothing but help him feel welcome and comfortable. If it is indeed upper management that is causing Jones-Drew to hold out in Jacksonville, the front office and coaching staff at Denver could be a refreshing change.
Lastly, Jones-Drew would have a legitimate interest in playing for Denver, since it would finally provide the back with the opportunity to play for a playoff-caliber team. In his six years with Jacksonville, Jones-Drew has suffered through a revolving door of quarterbacks, ineffective defenses and home games with 50-percent attendance. Only once did Jacksonville make the playoffs with MJD, where they lost to the New England Patriots in the divisional round.
To have the opportunity to be reunited with Del Rio, work under John Elway and John Fox and play on a team with a superstar quarterback and a potential top-five defense is something that must make MJD's toes tingle. For once in his career, he would also be able to split carries with other competent backs, allowing him to rest his knees and prolong his career.
This trade is far from reality, and is merely a speculative look at a move that could make sense for both organizations. Obviously, many things would have to fall into place.
The Jaguars would not accept Moreno in place of Jones-Drew. MJD is the star of the franchise, and Denver would likely have to dole out a high (first- to third-round) draft pick and potentially some assets to balance out the deal. Given the current situation of Denver's running game, they may not even be interested in making such a bold move.
One thing is for certain, however, and that is that Denver is seeing playoffs all the way this season. Peyton Manning, should his comeback prove to be successful, will be at his strongest throughout the next two seasons. What better way to make the job easier for their 36-year-old quarterback than to bring in one of the game's hardest-working and most effective running backs?
I can't think of another.
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