|MJD calls Emmitt Smith's career rushing record 'doable' but with a caveat. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Maurice Jones-Drew was the Jaguars' offense last season. And for that, he's looking for a raise. The problem: he's a running back. And in an age where quarterbacks are king and running backs are easier than ever to replace, their value isn't what it what once. That's not to say guys still aren't signing lucrative contracts, it's just that there are mitigating circumstances. In addition to being a truly special player, it also helps to be young (see LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster, for example).
MJD is clearly special -- he led the league in rushing last season -- but he's also 27, which is about the time NFL runners start to see their productivity fall off. He also carried the ball 343 times in 2011, and his running style is one that welcomes contact. That's great from one play to the next, but less so over the long haul.
Jones-Drew didn't participate in the Jags' recent minicamp and could hold out once the season begins. He's also spoken previously about the business side of the NFL and touched on the topic again recently during a radio appearance.
"Every player is a businessman, and whatever you feel is best for you and your family, you have to do that sometimes," he said via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "And so, like I said before, hopefully we can work on something and get something done. But I can't talk about it in the media, because that's not how I handle my business. I'd rather do it face-to-face, and that's just what it is. It's the side that we don't like about the football game -- it's not Pop Warner anymore, where it's just show up on Saturday mornings and have a good time. In the offseason, it's business. So that's just where we are right now.”
Finding some middle ground has to be atop new owner Shahid Khan's offseason to-do list.
In the meantime, MJD didn't sound worried that he'll slow down anytime soon. In fact, he said that “As long as I feel good, I'm gonna play. That's it. When I start to hurt and the hurting doesn't stop in February, March, it starts going into July and August, then we're gonna have problem. But right now I'm feeling great, and all I can do is keep playing and taking it a year at a time.”
He's feeling so great, it turns out, that he's willing to entertain questions about whether he can break Emmitt Smith's all-time career rushing record.
“Yeah, I think it's doable," Jones-Drew said. "I definitely think it's doable. Once again, Emmitt Smith was in a different situation than a lot of us, though. I mean, he had a Hall of Fame receiver, Hall of Fame quarterback, Hall of Fame offensive line, Hall of Fame fullback. Whoever put that team together did a heck of a job, and it just showed. … Don't get me wrong: he was the reason they won, but he had a lot of guys around him as well.”
The Jags took quarterback Blaine Gabbert and wide receiver Justin Blackmon in the first round of the last two drafts. Gabbert had a horrendous rookie effort and Blackmon's already been in the news this offseason for the wrong reasons. While no one expects either of them to turn the Jags into the 1990s Cowboys, MJD could use some help. It almost certainly won't be enough to break Smith's record (currently,he has 6,854 career rushing yards, 11,501 yards shy of Emmitt's mark), but we're guessing Jones-Drew would settle for a winning record and a chance at the playoffs.
First things first, though: he and the Jags need to come to some sort of an agreement on his current contract.
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