It’s safe to say that Maurice Jones-Drew was not a hot commodity when NFL Free Agency opened on March 11. After nearly two weeks, though, the former Jacksonville Jaguars running back appears to have found his new NFL home.
According to Adam Schefter, Jones-Drew is headed for the Bay Area to visit the Oakland Raiders, and there’s a “good chance” he’ll sign on Friday.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew scheduled to fly to Oakland tonight to visit Raiders Fri. One source said there’s “a good chance” Oakland signs MJD.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 27, 2014
While it’s not exactly the solve-all the Raiders were hoping for, bringing aboard Jones-Drew certainly won’t hurt their offense in 2014. Prior to a Lisfranc injury that cut his 2012 campaign short, MJD was considered by many to be one of the better backs in the NFL. Unfortunately, injuries, an inept offense and inconsistency has plummeted his value.
Just look back to his 3.4 yards-per-carry average last season if you don’t believe me.
If he does sign with the Raiders, Jones-Drew would likely battle fellow injury-prone veteran Darren McFadden for the starting spot. Both possess starting-caliber talent, but are constantly riding the trainer’s table. If Jones-Drew can get healthy, stay there, and show up big during training camp, though, he stands a serious chance at earning at least a No.1A role with the Raiders.
Having a healthy Jones-Drew in the backfield would be an excellent weapon for the Raiders offense. Recently-acquired Matt Schaub is terrific when running play-action, and defenses have to respect MJD as a ball carrier. He also brings value as a receiver out of the backfield, evidenced by his 335 career receptions and 11 career receiving touchdowns. Plus, he’s a pretty great pass blocker.
Assuming a deal gets done, expect it to be a one-year “prove it” pact. Jones-Drew is coming off two of the worst years in his NFL career, so the Raiders aren’t going to break the bank for his signature. Even with significant amounts of cap space still available, GM Reggie McKenzie is going to make Jones-Drew earn a lucrative deal.
Jones-Drew had previously been linked to a couple of teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, but appears set to become a Raider. As long as he comes at the right price, Oakland will be getting a steal.
We’ll see what happens on Friday.