Updates from Saturday, March 29
NFL on ESPN released a statement from the Jaguars thanking Jones-Drew:
Updates from Friday, March 28
Scott Bair of CSN Bay Arena provided a substantial update:
Maurice Jones-Drew has agreed to terms on a contract with the Raiders, two league sources confirmed to CSN Bay Area late Thursday night. Exact terms of the contract remain undisclosed.
The veteran running back is scheduled to undergo a physical on Friday morning. If he passes as expected and everything else goes according to plan, a contract will be formally signed later in the day.
ESPN's Adam Schefter added more to the report:
A deal still not final, but Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew and Raiders are expected to agree later today on a three-year deal, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2014
Schefter confirmed that the deal was done on Friday afternoon:
RB Maurice Jones-Drew officially is an Oakland Raider, signing a 3-year deal with the team. Jones-Drew is going home.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2014
Updates from Thursday, March 27
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has the latest on Maurice Jones-Drew:
Maurice Jones-Drew is visiting the #Raiders tonight and tomorrow, per source. Wow. Could get serious.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 27, 2014
Mike Garofolo of Fox Sports had more on the talks:
This MJD visit isn't just a "Hey, how ya doing?" Sides hoping to close a deal quickly.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 27, 2014
Adam Schefter of ESPN spoke on the chances of Jones-Drew landing in Oakland:
RB Maurice Jones-Drew scheduled to fly to Oakland tonight to visit Raiders Fri. One source said there's "a good chance" Oakland signs MJD.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 27, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, March 25
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports provides an update on Maurice Jones-Drew's conversation with the Steelers:
Steelers remain in contact with MJD as well, though not at his original $3.5M asking price. Moreno's contract likely would spur more action— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 26, 2014
The New England Patriots have not expressed interest in Maurice Jones-Drew, contrary to reports circulating Monday.
I was told Monday night no contact was made by the team.
Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post had more on Jones-Drew's asking price:
The source said Jones-Drew might be willing to wait until late in the summer or even into the season as an injury replacement if teams aren’t willing to meet his price.
Updates from Monday, March 24
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News repots Maurice Jones-Drew is receiving interest from several teams around the NFL:
The Daily News has learned that the Jets, Patriots, Dolphins and Steelers are in the hunt to land veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The teams are expected to meet with the Jones-Drew camp at league meetings this week.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com had more on how Jones-Drew has impacted other free agents:
Curious to see where MJD lands. #Steelers have interest, but so do the teams in the AFC East. Explains why Moreno, Blount on hold.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 24, 2014
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports Jones-Drew has not been in contact with the Dolphins:
Dolphins have not talked to Maurice Jones-Drew about a visit or his desire to play in Miami, much less a contract. So if that's interest ...— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 24, 2014
Updates from Thursday, March 20
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the latest on Maurice Jones-Drew:
Maurice Jones-Drew's visit with #Steelers ended. No contract. Still no backup RB. Next?— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) March 20, 2014
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had more on the chances Jones-Drew lands in Pittsburgh:
Maurice Jones Drew left Steelers offices this morning without a contract, but Art Rooney II left open possibility he could be signed.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 20, 2014
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com had what's next for Jones-Drew after visiting the Steelers:
Maurice Jones-Drew didn't generate much buzz during the opening week of free agency. Now that the dust has settled, however, the veteran is one of the top available running backs left on the market and interest is starting to build.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports the longtime member of the Jacksonville Jaguars is scheduled to meet with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday. He also notes other teams are interested in the three-time Pro Bowl selection as well:
Jaguars free-agent RB Maurice Jones-Drew is visiting the Steelers today, per source. They are not the only interested team.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2014
Jones-Drew is coming off a frustrating season that saw him average below four yards per carry for the first time in his career. He had barely over 800 rushing yards in 15 games with just five total touchdowns for a Jaguars team that finished 4-12.
Which team would be the best fit for Jones-Drew?
The struggles were likely due to a combination of factors. The 28-year-old lacked the combination of power and open-field quickness he showed earlier in his career, but he also had less space to operate behind the 31st-ranked offensive line in terms of run blocking, according to Football Outsiders.
Although the days of Jones-Drew being effective while racking up more than 300 touches per season are very likely a thing of the past, he could still possess value in a rotational role. That would be the situation if he joined the Steelers.
Pittsburgh's backfield features Le'Veon Bell, who had eight touchdowns despite a lackluster per-carry average as a rookie, and not much else. Adding a former league-leading rusher to the equation would provide some much-needed depth.
Jones-Drew believes he can still be of major assistance to an offense. After last season came to a close, Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com passed along comments from him about getting his body prepared to better recover from the weekly wear and tear:
There are some guys that don't need the offseason. They can just go out there and play ball. For me, the offseason is critical. I have to be able to train my body to be able to take the pounding that it takes each week, to be able to recover. I've been taking a lot of shots at my legs the last couple of years. I want to be able to get them back in shape and get ready to roll.
The Steelers would definitely be a good fit if Jones-Drew can come anywhere close to his prior form. Schefter didn't elaborate about which other teams are interested in adding him to the mix.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported last week that the New York Jets were showing significant interest in the veteran back:
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
The Jets have a crowded, albeit still less than impressive, group of running backs. Jones-Drew would have to battle the likes of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell for touches, but it's not hard to imagine him eventually earning the lion's share of the work.
Ultimately, the Steelers and Jets showing interest is a good indicator of what the future holds for Jones-Drew. He will likely join a team with at least one other back expected to split the load, allowing him to stay a little fresher with hopes it will increase his per-touch production.
Given the short shelf life of running backs in the NFL, the fact Jones-Drew was able to hold up for as long as he did before dropping off over the past two seasons is a testament to his work ethic. His focus now should shift to carving out a niche for himself with a new team.
Where he'll land is still a question mark, but it sounds like an answer could be on the horizon.