|Former Jags RB Fred Taylor says MJD is 'trying to use whatever leverage he has.' (Getty Images)|
In June, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew called Emmitt Smith's career rushing record "doable." It sounds like a stretch even if MJD plays another 10 years (he would have to average 1,150.1 yards a season to tie Smith). But before we can think a decade down the road, it's worth considering the next few weeks.
Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher in 2011, and the only offensive threat on a hapless five-win Jags team, has made it clear more than once that he wants to renegotiate the contract he signed in April 2009 that paid him $31 million over five years, including $17.5 million in guarantees. And apparently, he's willing to miss training camp to prove his point.
Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor explained it this way to WJXL-AM radio (via NFL.com): "He understands it's a young man's game. ... He's trying to use whatever leverage he has."
Fair enough except that MJD doesn't have any leverage. Yes, he's the team's most valuable offensive weapon but look at it this way: even after rushing for 1,606 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns last season, Jacksonville won just five games.
With the additions of Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson at wide receiver, and the hope that Blaine Gabbert will look more like a franchise quarterback than overmatched rookie, the Jaguars could probably win five games even if MJD decided to sit out the season. Put another way: rarely do players have the upper hand in these situations. The lone recent example: Drew Brees. Everybody else is at the mercy of the organization they're lobbying for more dough. Jones-Drew is no different, even if he's not yet willing to concede that publicly. Which, as CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco points out, will be to his detriment.
Maurice Jones-Drew can hold out all he wants. From what I've been told, there is no consideration at all on giving him a new deal. ,— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) July 19, 2012
Taylor continued: "I think (Jones-Drew) will continue to hold out because there were some things that were miscommunicated by both sides. Pride gets involved. Someone has to give. ... I don't think Maurice will be the first one to show his hand. Possibility it'll go into training camp or even further."
That very well may be but such a decision will invariably hurt one person: Jones-Drew. It doesn't make it any easier to watch Matt Forte and Ray Rice sign long-term deals (or LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster before them), but none of those players got new contracts after the 2009 season either, like MJD. They're also all younger than the 27-year-old Jones-Drew who is approaching an age where the correlation between age and productivity turns sharply negative.
So for now, the two sides appear to be at an impasse but ultimately, whether MJD plays in 2012 is up to him.
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