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Senior NFL Columnist

How much will it cost Jones-Drew when he returns?

If Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew ends his holdout in the next week, the tough part will be figuring out his fine.

The new collective-bargaining agreement says he can be fined up to $30,000 a day -- notice the phrasing "up to" -- which would mean he'd be in the $1 million range if coach Mike Mularkey wanted to fine him the full amount.

In talking with other coaches and front-office personnel about this situation, they all said Mularkey, who is in his first year with the team, has to fine Jones-Drew something to show the locker room he means business. Not doing so would give other players a free pass to sit out camp.

"You can also have a conversation where you tell him that he is being fined, but really don't but make sure it looks like he is," one coach said. "That happens a lot. But it has to have the appearance that he's fine. The other thing is that you can fine him $5,000 a day or so, which is manageable."

Jaguars players are keeping a close eye on the proceedings. They want to see how Mularkey handles this situation, which some say means he has to be fined to avoid someone else doing it the next year.

"Who wouldn't want to sit out camp?" one player said.

There is some talk that owner Shad Khan will make the fine call, but the public perception is the call is Mularkey's to make.

I say when Jones-Drew comes back -- and I expect he will at some point in the next week -- the team will agree to fine him an amount a lot less than the $30,000 a day. If he were getting a new deal, the team could write the fine money into the deal. But without a new deal coming, that can't happen.

"We've done that a bunch," said one team's cap guy. "You forgive the fine in the new contract. But this is different. There is no way to do it without a new deal."

Just remember the phrasing: It's up to $30,000 a day. I doubt the fine is that punitive when he returns.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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