NFL Rumors: Will the San Diego Chargers try to trade Ryan Mathews for Maurice Jones-Drew?

Ryan Mathews was a first round pick for the San Diego Chargers in the 2010 NFL Draft.  Mathews missed four games as a rookie and finished the 2010 season with 158 attempts, 678 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Mathews increased his yards per rushing attempt average from 4.3 as a rookie to 4.9 in 2011 as he had 222 attempts, 1,091 yards and six rushing touchdowns.

Mathews finished the 2011 season ranked 10th among all players in rushing yards and no one had more yards per attempt among players in the top 10 for rushing yards.  The San Diego starting running back missed two games last season, broke his clavicle in the team’s first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers this year and could miss the first two regular season games.

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,606 and yards per game at 100.4 during the 2011 season.  Jones-Drew has been a workhorse since the 2008 season because he had 312 rushing attempts in 2009, 299 attempts in 2010 and 343 attempts in 2011 with at least 1,300 rushing yards in each season.

Jones-Drew is owed $8.3 million in 2012, $8.8 million in 2013 and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season, but only $4.5 million and $4.9 million will count against the team’s cap space. Jones-Drew wants a contract extension and said that he is open to a trade.  Mathews is owed $712,750 in 2012, about $2 million in 2013 and $1.5 million in 2014.

Jones-Drew was selected in the 2006 NFL Draft, only missed three regular season games in six seasons from 2006-2011 and had at least 10 rushing touchdowns three times in his career including 15 in 2009.  Mathews missed twice as many games in four fewer seasons.  Jacksonville could be interested in Mathews because Jones-Drew might leave as an unrestricted free agent.

Mathews will be 25 years old when the season starts while Jones-Drew will be 27 years old.  If San Diego offers Mathews and draft picks for Jones-Drew, they would be over the salary cap in 2012.  Quentin Jammer  and Shaun Phillips are owed $4 million each in 2012, but Jammer and Phillips are in the final year of their contracts which would clear cap space next season.

San Diego had 32 team sacks in 2011 which was tied for 23rd in the NFL.  The Chargers missed out on one of the best free agents when defensive end Mario Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills.  It is time for San Diego to make a bold statement, and adding Jones-Drew could be the right move.














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  • Matt

    Ridiculous. This entire article is filled with mis-information.
    1) MJD makes under $5m each of the next 2 years – not just under $9m. At $9m, he would be the #2 or #3 paid RB.

    2) The Chargers didn’t even try for Mario Williams. “The Chargers missed out on one of the best free agents when defensive end Mario Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills.” is accurate only in as far as they never had any intention of chasing Mario Williams.

    3) Despite your claim that “Jacksonville could be interested in Mathews because Jones-Drew might leave as an unrestricted free agent.”, MJD cannot “leave as an unrestricted free agent” until he has completed 2 more seasons of service for Jacksonville. That requires MJD to show up for at least 6 games the next 2 seasons, at which point he would be 29 years old. There isn’t a ton of money out there for RBs approaching 30 with MJD’s workload history, even in light of his initial 3 years sharing the bal with Fred Jackson and his potential pair of 6-game seasons.

    This article is an embarrassment. Learn football. Open your eyes before you open your mouth.

    • Kenny Gardner

      Although Jones-Drew’s base salary is what you listed, his signing bonus as well as other bonuses for the season means that Jacksonville owes him $8.3 million in 2012 and $8.8 million in 2013 even though the extra bonuses do not count against the team cap space. San Diego never had any intention of chasing Williams? They were tied for 23rd in sacks and ranked last in the NFL at stopping teams on third downs. Pretty dumb on management’s part to not think about going after the best available defensive player. You said it yourself that Jones-Drew split time with Jackson, so Jones-Drew at the age of 29 would be different than the average primary RB. Look at Willis McGahee last season at age 30. I never said that Jones-Drew was not going to finish his two years with the team. I think it is funny when fans like you post comments and instead of respectfully disagreeing, you start an argument by taking shots at someone which shows how classless you are

      • Matt

        I don’t have to “respectfully disagree” when you are outright lying, at least partially because I don’t respect you. I didn’t start the article by taking shots at someone. I started the response by pointing out that your claims throughout your article are ridiculous. You are intentionally or – at very least – incompetently disseminating false information. You completely made up the “facts” on which you based your article. That isn’t okay, and you should be ashamed for that attempt. It is a bit difficult to draw someone else’s class into question when you are simply making up your own argument with no factual support.

        Your explanation of the differences in our financial figures are actually the exact opposite of accurate. For starters, MJD already collected his signing bonus. He was already paid. His salary cap hit is over $8 million, which includes the pro-rated amounts of bonuses that he was already paid, but the team only “owes” him a hair over $4 million. And last I checked MJD had run up over $750,000 in penalties for his non-appearance, so that number has fallen to around $3.5m.

        And yes – San Diego absolutely never had any intention of pursuing Mario Williams. Not only was Mario Williams coming off of injury (which SD needs no part of), but he is a natural 4-3 defensive end. He would be best used as a 3-4 OLB in San Diego’s system. Though Williams is an elite 4-3 DE, he would be only a good 3-4 OLB. He doesn’t possess the coverage skills required of linebackers. He would be a third down pass-rusher or rotational player. Why would any team pay the “elite 4-3 talent” price when they would only get the “good 3-4 talent” for their investment? Houston switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 last year with Wade at defensive coordinator. Though Mario was a good situational pass-rusher at OLB before his injury, he was hardly an every down defender. That is exactly why Houston waved goodbye and didn’t match Buffalo’s offer. Mario Williams belongs in a 4-3 defense. Forcing him into a 3-4 role would be a waste of his talents.

        You talk about how MJD would be different from a normal 29 year-old primary RB because he split carries with Jackson, but the truth is that his usage rate (total plays instead of just rushes, but note that even his rushes are peculiarly high) is significantly higher than most other backs over the last few years, so his knees have clearly seen the standard wear and tear. If you don’t recall, the reason people were hesitant to pursue him last year was because he had so many recent knee surgeries, and it came out that he had no more cartilage in one of his knees. You’re right that MJD would be “different than (sic) the average primary RB”; he will probably be a bit worse. His health is probably a little closer to the average 29-year old right now, so in 2 years, he may have more in common with a 31 year old back. San Diego traded up because they believe in Ryan Mathews. A.J. Smith hasn’t proven to be one to give up. He gave Buster Davis and Larry English as many shots as he could to prove they weren’t his mistakes. He’s not going to walk away before his investment pays out.

        And finally, did you really just try to use the Willis McGahee argument? It worked in this one rare case, so someone should invest $40 mil on the hope that it will work again! The entire reason you are aware of Willis McGahee’s success at 30 is because of how peculiar that level of success has been at that age. That example actually teaches the exact opposite lesson from what you claimed.

        I’m afraid you simply don’t understand the game of football a a deep enough level to make these sorts of arguments, Kenny. The fact you completely missed the 3-4/4-3 differences makes this clear.

        • Kenny Gardner

          With Liuget in his second season, and the addition of Reyes, San Diego had enough size to go to a 4-3 defense if they added Williams. I never overlooked the 3-4 defense, you assumed that I did. I never said that you started off by taking a shot and you did not start the article at all. You posted a comment. You’re telling me that A.J. does not give up on his guys and how has that worked out with first round picks long term other than Rivers? Fred Jackson was 30 years old last season while Michael Turner turned 30 about a week after the Super Bowl. They finished third and seventh in the NFL in rushing yards per game last season, so it was not just McGahee. I never said that San Diego should invest $40 million in MJD. Jones-Drew is signed through the 2013 season and his asking price could come down by going to a team with a chance at being competitive for the next 3-5 seasons.

  • njchargerfan

    Nothing matters as long as Norv the moron Turner is head coach. Chargers may finish last in their division this year.

    • Kenny Gardner

      Norv should have been fired after last season, and time will tell if that happens in terms of where San Diego finishes in the West

  • M. McCracken

    Love MJD but the bolts already gave up a lot just to draft RM and to bail on him now would be a mistake. The injuries are troubling but when healthy he’s shown the potential to be an extremely dangerous back. Trading for MJD would be a bold move and SD would certainly get in MJD the caliber of back they’d expect for such a deal. However, in my opinion RM’s upside is worth the uncertainty and risk involved. I could easily be eating these words but as much as I like MJD, I still believe RM will shake off this “injury prone” label and turn the corner. I’m not ready to give up on the kid yet.

    • Kenny Gardner

      Great points and as I stated in the article no one in the top 10 for rushing yards had more yards per attempt than Mathews in 2011. Hopefully Mathews stays healthy because I think there is at least a 75 percent chance that the Chargers will keep him

  • Brassknuckles47

    What is the purpose of this article? Where did this ‘RUMOR’ come from, or from whom did it originate? Where is your back-up source for this ‘RUMOR’? Did you speak with AJ Smith-GM of the Chargers, Norv Turner-HC of the Chargers, or someone on the inside of the Chargers organization? Surely you spoke to the Chargers beat writers, or people in-the-know at ESPN about this ‘RUMOR’. Which agents did you speak with for the details of this ‘RUMOR’. Most certainly your conversation with Jaguars GM-Gene Smith, or Coach Mike Mularky was most enlightening about this possible trade. Whis is there this type of headline and just 7 paragraphs of stats?

    Why is it that ESPN network, or none of the other sports news websites picked up this ‘RUMOR’ story?

    NOTE: Formula that does not work……sensationalized headline with no substantial research or sources.

    • Kenny Gardner

      1. If you search Ryan Mathews trade on google, there are articles questioning whether or not San Diego should trade him because of injuries.
      2. A rumor does not necessarily require a source
      3. If the title of my article said “The San Diego Chargers are reportedly interested in trading Ryan Mathews for Maurice Jones-Drew,” then I would see your point because that would require a source