The market for Maurice-Jones Drew hasn't been what was expected, as teams appear to be shying away from the veteran running back.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were once thought of as a fit for MJD—he spent the previous eight years of his career there, after all—but the signing of Toby Gerhart will presumably end their interest in re-upping with him.
Toby Gerhart's deal with the Jags worth $10.5M over 3 yrs with $4.5M guaranteed— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 12, 2014
Jones-Drew was once one of the top backs in the NFL. His best season came in 2011, a year in which he led the NFL in carries (343), rushing yards (1,606) and yards per game (100.4). He also totaled 374 receiving yards, leaving him just 20 yards shy of a 2,000-yard campaign.
He's not the same back as he was back then, however, so teams will likely look for him to split carries with another rusher.
The 28-year-old still has a few good years left in his legs, and there are a few teams out there that represent great fits for his services.
New York Jets
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that the New York Jets have "serious interest" in Jones-Drew:
Jets need to bolster pass catchers, but they want to improve RBs too. #NYJ showing serious interest in Maurice Jones-Drew, per source.— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 12, 2014
Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com adds in that their interest is only if the price is right:
The Jets do have an interest in RB Maurice-Jones Drew, as @MMehtaNYDN noted, if it's "at the right price," I'm told.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 12, 2014
The Jets need Jones-Drew. After bringing in Eric Decker, general manager John Idzik needs to continue to bolster the offense around quarterback Geno Smith. A huge reason why he struggled last season was due to a lack of firepower.
Bilal Powell was tied for second on the team with 36 receptions, and he figures to play a big role in the passing game again in 2014. Even out of the backfield, Powell is a good option for Smith.
When Powell needs a breather, the Jets will be able to go to Jones-Drew. He provides a similar skill set to the offense, and Smith will love his veteran presence in the backfield.
Jones-Drew is also a decent blocker. Just look at how he leveled Shawne Merriman a few seasons ago:
If Jones-Drew wants to prove that he still has something left in the tank, the Jets will provide him with plenty of touches to prove it.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady's depleted group of wide receivers was the central story last season, but adding a pass-catcher out of the backfield would help to mitigate the pressure on the wideouts.
Doug Kyed of NESN.com agrees with that sentiment:
Regardless of where they get it, Patriots need another RB who can catch. Can't get into situation where Bolden is playing on 3rd down again.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) March 7, 2014
Jones-Drew would be an immediate fit as a third-down back with the New England Patriots. He can both run in short-yardage situations and catch passes in the flat to get the first down. Brady loves checking down to targets that are either in the flat or across the middle of the field, and Jones-Drew would give him another option to do so.
Given the fact that the Patriots run a ton of plays out of the shotgun, teams frequently expect the pass. Jones-Drew can then capitalize on draw plays up the middle to pick up yardage. Long gone are the days of him being a 1,000-yard rusher, but Jones-Drew stands to pick up close to 1,000 total yards from scrimmage in this system.
Plus, this situation would put Jones-Drew in a real position to win for the first time in a long time.
Knowshon Moreno is not expected to return to the AFC-Champion Denver Broncos next season. This leaves them with Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman in the backfield. Both backs are young and inexperienced, so adding a veteran presence next to Peyton Manning would be a smart move for a team looking to get back to the Super Bowl.
Manning won't play forever, so Denver's window is quickly closing. The team has made big moves on the defensive side of the field in free agency, and they also replaced Eric Decker with former Pittsburgh Steeler Emmanuel Sanders, via the team's official Twitter account:
Relying on young backs when their window is closing is not a smart move for the Broncos. Adding a veteran into the mix that can handle the pressures of a playoff push is crucial.
Jones-Drew would also be the perfect replacement for Moreno. While he isn't the speedy back he used to be, Jones-Drew can still catch passes in the flat and break tackles to gain yardage. Moreno was used frequently in pass-catching situations during his breakout season in 2013.
If the Broncos want a running back that can step in and fill the void left by Moreno (for much less cash), they should look no further than Jones-Drew.