It appears that the contract holdout between Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jacksonville Jaguars is getting ugly.
A mere hours after new Jaguars owner Shahid Khan told the media that he has no plans of backing off of his stance that the Jaguars will not renegotiate Jones-Drew’s contract and told him that “the train is leaving the station” with or without him, Jones-Drew’s agent issued a statement that the star running back would be open to a trade if he does not get the money he is looking for.
Khan’s statements have apparently added some unnecessary animosity to the situation.
“Obviously, he’s not happy that what started as a very cordial and private conversation is now public and contentious,” Jones-Drew’s agent Adisa Bakari said.
Jones-Drew has been absent from the Jaguars facility the entire offseason as he continues to demand that the team gives him a new contract despite the fact that he still has two years remaining on his current deal. Unlike other players who have held out this offseason, Jones-Drew is not still playing under his rookie contract. Jones-Drew still has two years left on a five-year, $31 million contract he signed prior to the 2009 season. He is unhappy that his front-loaded contract paid him $21 million over the first three years of the deal and he is scheduled to only make $10 million over the final two years of the deal.
The Jaguars feel that they showed good faith towards Jones-Drew when the tore up his rookie contract early and made him one of the highest paid running backs in the NFL before he proved he could have success as a featured rusher.
Regardless of what Jones-Drew says through his agent, it appears that Khan and the Jaguars are unlikely to cave to his demands.
Despite his status as one of the five best running backs currently in the league, Jones-Drew would not fetch higher than a third-round draft pick in a trade. Even if the Jaguars found a suitable trading partner, his new team would likely not have the means to give him the new contract that he so desperately wants.
At this point Jones-Drew foolishly still believes that he has any leverage in this situation. Despite leading the league in rushing last season, the Jaguars only managed to win five football games. They have also shown so far this preseason that their new offense can move the ball fine without him.
Most scouts believe his backup, Rashad Jennings, could be a starter on several other teams. Now Jennings may get his chance to be the Jaguars featured back in Jones-Drew’s absence.
At this point, it seems that there is no end in sight for Jones-Drew’s holdout.