Maurice Jones-Drew Halts Contract Talks, Missing Jaguars' Minicamp

When a team's star running back wins the previous year's rushing title, regardless of being the primary offensive weapon, we could all agree he deserves a little bit of a raise. In the case of Jacksonville Jaguars' running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, a raise is undoubtedly deserved, but General Manager Gene Smith doesn't seem to see a reason why MJD should at least be allowed to negotiate. The result comes as a Jags fan's worst nightmare - a player hold out. By missing mini-camp, MJD not only risks being fined $60,000, he loses valuable work out time getting his legs back. I know MJD is a record setting player, but injury also plays a big part in walking into gametime situations unprepared. A lengthy holdout not only damages the Jaguar's ability to restructure their offense, but also sends a message to players and fans they might not forget over the remaining two years of MJD's contract.

If MJD holds out for a significant amount of time, fans will begin to reconsider his loyalty. Without having signed draft pick WR Justin Blackmon yet, the Jaguars do not have any guaranteed offensive playmakers besides veteran WR Marcedes Lewis, who had a dismal 2011 season.  Unless QB Blaine Gabbert's Gatorade is spiked with magic dust, an improved QB alone is not going to do the trick. MJD knows, as much as the fans know, he is needed, which is why MJD must be careful. Too much demanding, pouting, or staying away (much like any relationship!) will only cause him to look like a cry baby. In the NFL, fan bases will not forgive greed or perceived abandonment unless trust is earned back on the field.

To be fair, let's look at the numbers. According to ESPN Florida, Maurice Jones-Drew's contract is worth $31M over 5 years, resulting in the next two years to pay out $4.45M and $4.95M. Even with a rushing title under his belt, MJD makes less money than RBs DeAngelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers, and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. Yet, I have to question how much money MJD thinks the Jaguars have to hand over. The fake Twitter account of head coach Mike Mularkey tweeted this funny, yet true stinger earlier today:

Under the franchise tag in 2011 alone, Marcedes Lewis raked in roughly $7.3M. The Jaguars dropped their franchise tag, subsequently dropping Lewis' pay to $34M over the next 5 years. However, Lewis' yearly base salary creeps back up to $7M by the time the 5 years are up. With high profile signings like Justin Blackmon's right around the corner, plus the draft picks already signed, Jaguars' cap space is bulging at the seams. The Jaguars led the NFL in injuries last year with players such as recently released DE Aaron Kampman, who took up $11.45M in cap space. MJD's raise may only come from raised TD signals from the refs in 2012.

In a recently released video from, teammates such as Rashad Jennings and Greg Jones express their understanding of Jones-Drew's need to take care of business while holding no hard feelings. Yet, mini-camps are just as important to a team as pre-season training camp. All players state they know MJD wants to be out there with them, but the fact is he's not out there.

I'm afraid situations like this are where the heart of sports gets lost in translation for money and contracts. Sure, professional football is a job, but as of this moment MJD has not expressed any intentions to leave the team. Showing up for a team is equally pertinent as getting paid, but for any organization to want to pay out, you have to show up.


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