Earlier today, Jaguars general manager Gene Smith acknowledged that star running back Maurice Jones-Drew did want to renegotiate his contract. Smith also said the Jaguars simply weren’t going to oblige.
“Obviously, he has expressed that he would like to renegotiate and we have expressed again that we feel he has a contract with two years left that we expect him to fulfill those obligations.” -Gene Smith, Jaguars GM
It’s not surprising that the Jaguars don’t want to restructure a contract that clearly favors the team, especially with two full years left on the current deal. My gut instinct is that the Jaguars don’t have any intentions of re-signing Jones-Drew when his current deal expires.
That’s right. I said it. The fact of the matter is that Maurice Jones-Drew is likely on the tail end of his prime. In the past three seasons, he’s carried the ball 312, 299, and 343 times respectively. In other words, the 6 year veteran has a lot of mileage on his tires, and the Jaguars are just trying to get what they can out of him before it’s time to go find a new running back.
This seems like a cold reality, but the truth is that NFL franchises are businesses, and restructuring Jones-Drew’s contract now would be a bad business decision. Running backs get hit on nearly every carry, and they tend to fall-off in production quicker than most positions.
I’m sure the Jaguars would like to retain Jones-Drew beyond the next two years, but there’s a big problem with doing that. He’s going to cost the team a lot more when the two sides do come to the negotiation table, and if the Jaguars make good on their intentions, Jones-Drew will be 28 at that time and 29 by the time he takes the field under a new contract.
For comparison’s sake, Maurice Jones-Drew is set to make about $4.45 million in 2012, according to Rotoworld, compared to Chris Johnson’s $8 million. Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing yards in 2011, and it’s likely that the contract he’d like to have would compare with Johnson’s deal which included $30 million guaranteed. The Jaguars are too smart to make that type of deal.
It’s possible that the Jaguars will re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew after his current contract expires following the 2013 season, but it doesn’t seem likely. The Jaguars are making a business decision that may not be popular with Jones-Drew or his fans, but it doesn’t make sense for them to re-structure his contract now.