Not long ago, Maurice Jones-Drew was considered one of the top up-and-coming running backs in the NFL. Now, it appears the former Jacksonville Jaguars star is already nearing his expiration date. There might be a couple more seasons left in the tank, though.
Despite coming off a poor 2013 campaign, the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have serious interest in Jones-Drew, whose market has been ice cold since NFL free agency opened on March 11. He received some early interest from the New York Jets, but nothing ever came of it.
The Steelers are looking for a running back who can provide their offense with a chance of pace. The team wants to keep sophomore Le’Veon Bell relatively fresh while limiting the wear on his tires, but have limited options on the roster. The addition of Jones-Drew would give them a legitimate No. 2 option who could spell Bell from time to time while keeping opposing defenses on their toes.
The only problem is that Jones-Drew hasn’t been himself as of late.
When he isn’t too hurt to play, the UCLA product looked out of gas in 2013. After missing most of the 2012 season with a Lisfranc injury, Jones-Drew returned last year to the disappointing tune of 3.4 yards per carry – a career low – and only five touchdowns. He continued to be a weapon out of the backfield with 43 receptions, but managed only 7.3 yards per catch. Put simply, he wasn’t the reliable playmaker the Jaguars once relied on.
Still, the Steelers would be glad to have him aboard. When healthy, Jones-Drew is a tough, physical runner who can pick up yards after contact and make people miss. Not only would he be an excellent No. 2 behind Bell, but he might even be able to impart some knowledge on the youngster.
Unless the Steelers are happy with Alvester Alexander as their backup to Bell, signing Jones-Drew would be a smart move. He’s in Pittsburgh right now, so we’ll see if a deal gets done shortly.