What would early August be in the NFL without at least one Mexican standoff between a star player and management? Maurice Jones-Drew wants a new contract. The Jacksonville Jaguars are apparently digging in their heels and are refusing to acquiesce to his request. Thus MJD has not reported to Jaguars camp, and while all holdouts eventually end, as ESPN's Adam Schefter writes, "It will go on into the summer." Therefore, could the reigning NFL rushing champ be moved to a title contender this summer — specifically the New England Patriots?
The Jaguars extended Jones-Drew in 2009 with a five-year deal worth $30.9 million with roughly $17.5 million in guarantees. Entering the 2012 season, MJD's contract ranks him 5th amongst the highest paid running backs in the game. His base salary, however, ranks him ninth behind the likes of Michael Turner, Darren McFadden, and even Reggie Bush. In the last three seasons, MJD has never dropped below fifth in the NFL in rushing, and has averaged 30+ receptions per season. And if you want to go real dork-mode, he has consistently been in the top five in DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) since 2009. Which begs the question — has Jones-Drew outperformed his current deal, and considering the shelf life on running backs, should Jacksonville (as Teddy KGB would put it) pay zat man his money?
The Jaguars haven't finished with a record better than 8-8 in the last four seasons, and unless Jones-Drew played the entirety of last season with blinders on, he might have a sneaking suspicion that Blaine Gabbert might not be the franchise quarterback the former Jaguars administration pegged him to be. Jones-Drew accounted for roughly 47 percent of the Jaguars' total offense last season and watched as the team was forced to pick in the top 12 in the draft for the fourth time in as many years. MJD has 1,762 touches on his resume, and with the feeble quality of weapons in the Jacksonville offense this season, he is sure to be asked (if healthy) to touch the ball well over 300 times again, further hampering his value on the open market in 2013.
Enter the New England Patriots. Currently the Pats are roughly $3m over the allotted $120.6m salary cap (dead monies included) for 2012, which could complicate the matter. When the Patriots were unable to extend Wes Welker they all but put themselves in cap purgatory for 2012. Welker (who signed his franchise tender) will receive a one-year max contract of $9.515m, which complicates the Pats' cap flexibility all the more.
Yet with the August 27th cuts about a month away, the Patriots have an extensive history of being able manipulate and effectively short the cap. There are a plethora of mechanisms the front office could deploy to wiggle their way under the cap to make room for MJD (ala reworking his deal in which he would have to take a pay cut in 2012, with his cap hit re-correcting next year to the agreed upon rate in extended deal), but that would also mean delaying their cap flexibility problems until next year.
Then of course there is the matter of compensation. Jones-Drew is without question one of the league's elite runners who has yet to show any decline. When Clinton Portis was moved to the Redskins in 2004, Washington paid a second round pick, and then some guy named Champ Bailey. New England has no such asset — aside from perhaps Wes Welker — so by all accounts, with Jones-Drew under contract for two more seasons, the Jaguars are surely not going to be hasty in receiving anything less than 80 cents on the dollar.
The market for Jones-Drew could be as high from a first, a second, and a third round pick. Therefore, would the Patriots be willing to part with valuable draft picks (something they covet) for a 27-year-old running back who wants to be compensated in accordance with the market?
Then one must consider whether or not it's a great fit on the field. If Patriots fans have learned anything from the Chad Johnson trade last season, superstar names don't always translate into superstar performances in New England. The Jaguars’ running attack was primarily a dive-based scheme, e.g. running between the tackles on offense whether the quarterback is under center or in the shotgun. The Pats, on the other hand, tend to employ more offensive line movement with counters, off-tackle options, or stretch plays. Jones-Drew would have to digest an entirely new offensive system, of which most of the other Patriots are on volume four while he'd be stuck learning the first edition.
Essentially it's a great idea on paper and if you're playing Madden 2013. However, the obstacles facing both the Patriots and the Jaguars in moving Jones-Drew this summer probably makes a deal as likely as the Jags making the playoffs this season.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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