The list of suitors in the hunt to sign free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew has been cut to four. The New England Patriots are one of them, and they should stay away. He wouldn’t be a bad worst-case scenario signing, but priorities at the position should lie with the re-signing of LeGarrette Blount.
New England is among Jones-Drew’s shortlist of desired places of relocation. The other three teams he prefers to sign with are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. Two years ago, the former franchise RB of the Jacksonville Jaguars would have had a much longer list to choose from because plenty more teams would be calling for his services. But since 2012, it’s been all downhill for Jones-Drew.
After being one of the best RBs in the NFL from 2009-2011, Jones-Drew hasn’t had much to brag about since then. He suffered a foot injury in 2012 that limited him to six games before being placed on injured reserve. Last season, in 15 games, he averaged a career low 3.4 yards per carry, and amassed his second-lowest rushing yards in a season (803) and the same low in touchdowns (five). His career YPC is still 4.5, but he is almost “over the hill” in football terms.
The 29-year-old Jones-Drew is obviously getting close to the dreaded age for RBs, 30. He also obviously took a beating in Jacksonville, being the premiere back on a bad team for eight years. Age is not on his side, and now the injury question is. All that adds up to a one-year deal on a team willing to give him a chance, and I don’t think the Patriots should be that team.
Giving Blount another year, along with more carries in 2014, is the better option if you ask me. He exploded at the end of last year, and didn’t get full-time carries until late in the season. Jones-Drew can still be productive, but Blount is two years younger and is hungrier because he still has much more to prove. The Patriots would be wise to skip on Jones-Drew.