|Khan says he's not sweating MJD's holdout. (US Presswire)|
Prior to the start of preseason football, there was much hand-wringing about how the absence of Maurice Jones-Drew -- currently holding out for a new contract -- would affect the Jaguars, particularly the development of second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
It appears that nervousness was external only; owner Shahid Khan, speaking to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports during the Jags-Saints game in New Orleans on Friday, shrugged off MJD's holdout. Khan, who purchased the team from Wayne Weaver prior to 2011, called Jones-Drew's decision "not a great concern."
"He's not here, and that's his decision," Khan said. "Believe me, it's not a great concern. You hope for the best, and you plan for the worst. Our goals for the season don't change, and if he isn't here, he isn't here. I don't control it. It's his choice."
It didn't exactly hurt matters that as Khan was unleashing these quotes to Silver, Gabbert and new rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon (Khan called him "the real thing") and Rashard Jennings, MJD's backup, were in the middle of putting on an incredibly impressive and surprising offensive show against New Orleans.
Khan also said that MJD's decision "doesn't even move the needle," particularly in relation to some of the other labor strife he's dealt with in the past.
"I've been involved in many kind of industrial business dealings," Khan said. "I've encountered strikes and violence. And if you don't handle that, you're not around to see them through.
"Believe me, on a zero-to-10 level of stress, this doesn't even move the needle."
This isn't how things were supposed to play out. Jones-Drew, who is due just over $9 million for the remaining two years of his deal, was going to stay away from the team, the Jaguars were going to look terrible leading up to the regular season and then ultimately cave because he's all the offense they have.
Whoops. MJD's been gone, but the offense -- and, yes, it is only the preseason, I'm aware -- looks like it's taken huge strides. Gabbert looks confident in the pocket, the offensive line looks competent, and Jennings looks like, well, MJD. It doesn't hurt that the addition of Blackmon and Laurent Robinson means Gabbert actually more than zero weapons in the passing game.
Making matters more awkward is the $600,000 in fines that MJD has accumulated over the duration of his holdout. Silver reports that the decision on whether or not to enforce those fines will be made by Mike Mularkey, but because Mularkey and Jones-Drew still haven't met in person, "the smart money" is on Mularkey not giving any of that cash back to MJD.
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