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Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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Senior NFL Columnist

Jones-Drew's absence from camp could be about money

Maurice Jones-Drew has reportedly made the decision not to attend the Jacksonville Jaguars voluntary minicamp.

It has something to do with a new contract.

For the past couple of months, I've been hearing from team sources that Jones-Drew has been talking about a new deal. He has two years left on a contract he signed in 2009, but that deal makes him the eighth-highest paid running back in the league and he was the NFL's top rusher last season.

So you can see his point. But you can also understand why the team would balk. Jones-Drew is entering his seventh season, but he's only been the primary rusher the past three. He isn't a big guy, and while he takes great care of his body, the wearing-down factor has to be a concern.

I love the way he plays. He's tough and physical and gives his all. But I think he left yards on the field last season. He didn't cut with the same authority he did in other seasons. And he also didn't look as explosive in the open field.

Jones-Drew has to realize that backs come and go faster than any other position. The Jaguars have to be careful about paying him a long-term extension. Maybe up his pay in a shorter deal, but he will be 29 when his current deal expires.

The Jaguars have leaned on Jones-Drew for a lot. He's been a one-man band a lot of the time on offense and he's produced. But if the Jaguars are going to take things to the next level, they have to be less reliant on Jones-Drew and more reliant on the passing game.

Jones-Drew has often stayed away from voluntary work, but this is the first time he will be playing for a new coach in his career. That means a new system. That means he should be there -- a new contract or not.

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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