Things could be getting ugly here for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Thus far, the only ray of hope they had last season on offense in Maurice Jones-Drew has yet to make his arrival at Jaguars team headquarters with a contract dispute.
Pocket Hercules still has two years left on his five-year $35 million dollar deal that was signed in 2009, but he wants more. He is currently paid as a top ten Running Back in the league, but after winning the 2012 rushing title, he thinks he should be paid as such.
At the beginning of the teams voluntary workouts, Head Coach Mike Mularkey confirmed that Jones-Drew’s absence was indeed a contract dispute, but re-iterated that everything up to the mandatory mini-camps were strictly voluntary.
Now, a report from Jacksonville.com’s Tania Ganguli cites that the Jaguars have no intentions on renegotiating the deal of the star Running Back, and General Manager Gene Smith spoke briefly on the matter.
“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 and we expect him to fulfill those obligations,” Smith said.
Jones-Drew has missed all team activity up to this point, and the mandatory portion of it starts tomorrow, if he isn’t present the club can start fining him in correlation to the new CBA. Gene Smith said he is in favor of fining him until he shows up to team functions.
“That’s a decision that certainly is the head coach’s decision,” Smith said of fining Jones-Drew. “And I would support that.”
For Jaguars fans, MJD was fun to watch last year, and frankly one of the only reasons to watch the team. With a new Owner and Head Coach the team looks to build a winner, and having him there would certainly give them a chance to do so if the pieces fall in place. Building off the success they had last season running the ball, if Blaine Gabbert can take a step forward, and the defense can play at the level they played under Mel Tucker last season, the Jags really aren’t that far off from at least being contenders in the division.
We’ve seen several sub-par Quarterbacks in the NFL with strong defenses and running games, if the Jaguars can do that with the new system while Blaine gets caught up to speed it will certainly help the team have success. But Jones-Drew is the heartbeat of that team, and without him they are farther away from being contenders.
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Sports-Kings Senior NFL Columnist – Justin Arbogast