Maurice Jones-Drew doesn't seem to want to leave the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team he's spent his entire eight-year career with, but he might have to for monetary reasons.
According to Mark Long of the Associated Press, Jones-Drew desires a contract with guaranteed money rather than one primarily based on incentives:
Early indications are MJD wants a long-term contract & doesn't want to settle for a 2-year, incentive-laden deal— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) December 30, 2013
I would love to see it through here, but you said it exactly right—it's a monetary issue. That's where we are now. It's not about football anymore. That's part of the deal, part of the game.
WJXT sports anchor Michael Kelly documented Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell discussing Jones-Drew's status within the organization during the team's Dec. 31 press conference:
Dave Caldwell on MJD: I'm not pessimistic at all about it. I think he's earned right to go to free agency. #Jaguars— Michael Kelly (@MichaelLKelly) December 31, 2013
Caldwell says he does not envision Jaguars signing Maurice Jones-Drew before free agency. Will let him hit the market first. #Jaguars— Michael Kelly (@MichaelLKelly) December 31, 2013
Rookie Denard Robinson prefers Jones-Drew remains in Jacksonville, courtesy of DiRocco:
That's my big brother right there. He'll do whatever for me and it would be kind of weird not to see him over there. I always look for him for guidance, him and Justin Forsett. I can't control what they want to do, but I really want him to come back.
When the 2014 season begins, Jones-Drew will be 29 years old and in his ninth season. Historically, the average shelf life of a running back is much shorter than other offensive positions. Running backs typically sign shorter-term contracts later in their careers due to the previous punishment on their bodies.
After a season in which he totaled 1,117 yards from scrimmage, 803 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 15 games, Jones-Drew doesn't appear to be on a steep decline. After a slow start, he actually improved as the year wore on and finished with 80 or more total yards in five of his last eight games, including a 103-yard rushing performance in Week 14.
For the Jaguars, Jones-Drew might not be a necessity. With Jordan Todman emerging late in the season and Robinson on the roster as well, Jacksonville might be able to move forward without MJD.