The Jacksonville Jaguars are starting their 2012 season Friday night without their best offensive weapon on the field.
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has been noticeably absent from the team’s training camp as he continues to holdout with the hopes of getting a new contract. Unfortunately for Jones-Drew, the Jaguars have no desire to cave to their star player.
Reports are that Jones-Drew plans on taking his holdout all the way through August and it could potentially spill in to September. However, both the Jaguars and Jones-Drew have been in constant contact throughout this holdout and have been keeping a friendly dialogue.
Jones-Drew still has two years remaining on the five-year, $31 million that he signed back in 2009, but his contract was front loaded so he is only due to make $4.5 million this year despite leading the NFL in rushing yards last season.
The Jaguars hold most of the leverage in this situation, and at this point Jones-Drew is starting to resemble a stubborn kid who is trying to stomp his feet until he gets his way. The Jaguars have no incentive to break protocol and tear up a contract with two years left on it, especially that of a 27-year old running back whose physical running style suggests he does not have many elite years left.
While I am not concerned that Jones-Drew’s holdout will spill into the regular season, I am worried about how ready Jones-Drew will be to play when he actually does report. The Jaguars are installing a new offense with new coaches this offseason and he will not be able to play until he has a grasp of that offense. Maybe even a bigger concern could be the nagging soft tissue injuries that tend to crop up on players who have long contract holdouts.
The bottom line is that the sooner Jones-Drew reports, the better it will be for both sides.