After nine seasons in the league, Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement from professional football via Twitter on Thursday. The 29-year-old running back released the following statement: "After much discussion with my family and business team during the offseason, I've decided to retire from the National Football League. The past nine years were absolutely amazing! I'll be forever grateful to the countless people who have assisted me throughout my NFL journey. To my fans, and NFL fans worldwide, you are the absolute greatest! But for you, our league would not exist. Football has been a central part of my life over the past 24 years. But, now I'm excited and looking forward to the next chapter of my life." Jones-Drew was drafted 60th overall by the Jaguars in 2006, and spent his first eight seasons in Jacksonville before an injury-riddled 2014 campaign with the Raiders. The three-time Pro Bowler and one-time first team All Pro selection won the rushing titles in 2011 with 1,606 rushing yards. Jones-Drew was never able to play a full season due to several injuries. He combined for 1,313 rushing yards the next three seasons after he was the league's top rusher.
The Raiders have a young and dynamic running back in Latavius Murray that could be poised for a breakout season in 2015. However, Oakland will want to ensure depth at the position while keeping all of its options open in new coach Jack Del Rio's first year on the job. At the NFL combine on Wednesday, Del Rio said, via NFL.com, that he's spoken with veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew on if he can get back to his previous form. He even point-blankly asked Jones-Drew about his future. "Hey, man, can you be explosive again?" Del Rio told Jones-Drew. Based on Jones-Drew's 2014 season, Del Rio has not promised the running back a roster spot. Jones-Drew ran for only 96 yards on 43 carries in 2014 for the Raiders.
At age 29, Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew is entering a make-or-break season when it comes to where he's at in his career. And that's something Oakland coach Jack Del Rio wants to uncover. Does Jones-Drew still have some solid seasons left in his tank or is he nearing the end? Meeting with reporters on Thursday, Del Rio, who coached Jones-Drew in Jacksonville early in the running back's career, was asked if Jones-Drew can still has a lot to offer at the position. "[Jones-Drew] thinks he does," Del Rio told reporters, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "We need to find that out." Jones-Drew only carried the ball 43 times for 96 yards in 2014. Prior to his final season with the Jaguars in 2013, Jones-Drew never averaged less than 4.2 yards per carry. In 2013, that number fell to 3.4 and in 2014 it dwindled to 2.2.
It's conceivable, "if not likely," that new Raiders coach Jack Del Rio "will make a strong push" to keep running back Maurice Jones-Drew, reports ESPN.com. Jones-Drew, 29, played six seasons for Del Rio in Jacksonville and they had a good relationship, the report said. Jones-Drew is scheduled to count $2.5 million against the cap each of the next two seasons, a high price for a declining back who'd back up starter Latavius Murray. It's possible the team reworks his contract and keeps him around. Jones-Drew averaged a career-low 2.2 yards per carry in his first season with the Raiders but says his body "feels good" and he wants to "turn this thing around" in Oakland.
With expectations sky-high for Latavius Murray in 2015, the Raiders aren't expected to re-sign impending free agent running back Darren McFadden, reports CSNBayArea.com. McFadden, 27, averaged 3.4 yards per carry this season and has not had a good year since 2011. Oakland also is expected to part ways with 29-year-oold running back Maurice Jones-Drew, saving the team $2.5 million. Murray, 25, averaged 5.2 yards on his 82 carries and will enter next season as the starter.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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