Ladies and gentlemen we have our next running back holdout. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been informed that Maurice Jones-Drew will not report to training camp and is holding out for contract negotiations, sources say.
Jones-Drew has done nothing but produce for the Jaguars during his career but recently he’s been on a tear. Last season many were doubting that Jones-Drew would be healthy enough to play a full season given his knee issues, but only did he play, he led the NFL in rushing. Jones-Drew has accumulated more rushing yards the past three seasons than any other running back in the league.
So naturally he’s going to want a bigger contract. He’s wanted one for a while now, but this is the loudest message he’s sent thus far about his contract.
And thus starts one of the uglier standoffs we may see in 2012. Mike Wallace is currently at odds with the Steelers over his deal but at least the two sides were talking. The same can’t be said about the Jaguars and Jones-Drew. The Pro Bowler still has two years left on his deal but he wants to restructure and renegotiate it.
But new Jaguars owner Shad Khan is having none of it and has stated the he will not give Jones-Drew a new contract with two years left on the old one.
“There’s no decision here.” Khan told the Florida-Times Union.
Jones-Drew can be fined $30,000 a day by the Jaguars for every day of camp he misses. This is a tactic that broke down basically every hold out last season including running back Chris Johnson.
The fines were added to the new CBA last season to avoid lengthy holdouts like the one Michael Crabtree pulled off his rookie season with the 49ers which went on well into the regular season. But it’s a dangerous waiting game that both sides are playing and there’s no guarantee that the relationship between Jones-Drew and the jaguars will be repairable if things get ugly.
“There’s more than 50 players under contract,” Khan continued. “There are other people under contract in management, coaches. Does that mean if you do it for one, you do it for everybody? Where do you draw the line?”
It’s not like Jones-Drew can play through this season and go elsewhere when it’s done. He’s under contract through next season, which means he’s either really serious about getting a deal done or he’s planting the seeds for next season.
The latter might be Jones-Drew’s best option since it’s unlikely that the new owner will buckle with the first holdout he gets. What kind of message would that send in terms of who’s in charge.
It’s a power struggle in Jacksonville and for a team that can’t really afford to lose it’s only real connection with the greater NFL universe, it’s going to be an interesting battle.