The stalemate between the Jacksonville Jaguars and veteran RB Maurice Jones-Drew continues. The reigning rushing leader wants a new long-term contract but the Jaguars ownership has drawn a line in the sand and hasn’t budged in the last 27 days. Jacksonville owner Shad Khan told reporters in regards to Jones-Drew’s situation, “Train’s leaving the station. Run, get on it.” The team appears content to head into the season without the services of MJD this season.
The Jaguars have looked like a different team so far this preseason. Granted, this isn’t a team prepared to make a playoff push this season, but offensively, they are improved over the team they fielded last year. Second-year QB Blaine Gabbert, who was horrible last season, is enjoying a solid preseason completing 18 of 26 passes for 175 yards, three scores and no interceptions. Quite an improvement over last year, but it is just preseason.
The team seems content with RB Rashad Jennings in the backfield. Back from an injury he sustained last year, Jennings has rushed for 118 yards on 29 carries and has shown some burst this preseason.
As this holdout is being played out in the press, Jones-Drew responded to Khan’s comments Tuesday and has stated that he is open to a trade. He has two years remaining on his contract which will pay him $4.45 million in 2012 and $4.95 million next year. Despite claims that the Jaguars have no interest in trading Jones-Drew, which NFL clubs might be a good fit for the running back?
New York Jets- The Jets fancy themselves as the Ground and Pound offense, but they have been doing neither this preseason. The offense is struggling mightily and has scored just 9 points in two contests. RB Shonn Greene has not looked explosive this season and the addition of MJD would finally give the Jets the workhorse back they need to move the chains. Last season, Green along with LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight combined for 371 carries which resulted in 69 first downs. MJD accounted for 75 first downs on 343 carries. Jones-Drew had nine runs over 20 yards while the Jets trio above accounted for just 5 total.
Washington Redskins- The running back position in Washington has been very unsettled in the last few seasons. MJD would add the stability and durability that the Redskins have lacked. The pairing of Jones-Drew with rookie QB Robert Griffin III would be very interesting. Are Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Tim Hightower better than MJD? Washington has the salary cap space but do they want to part with more draft choices after surrendering so much this year to land Griffin?
Pittsburgh Steelers- Rashard Mendenhall has been activated off the PUP list, but what should the Steelers realistically expect from him this year? Mendenhall will be a free agent after this season. Isaac Redman has missed valuable time this preseason while nursing a hand injury. The Steelers could take care of two issues in one move- Trade WR Mike Wallace to the Jaguars in exchange for MJD. Pittsburgh is reportedly around $5 million under the salary cap.
MJD could be intriguing in Arizona with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells both coming off injuries, but the Cardinals have larger issues surrounding the quarterback position. He would be a perfect fit for the Indianapolis Colts and their young offense, but an intra-divisional trade would never happen.
An interesting prospect for a trade would be the Detroit Lions. The running back situation in Detroit has been clouded with injuries. Can Jahvid Best contribute when he finally returns to the field? The Lions don’t know what they have in second-year RB Mikel Leshoure who missed all of last season and will be suspended to start the season. Veteran Kevin Smith also has a history of injury issues. It would be fun to watch Jones-Drew in the Lions offense with QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson, but the Lions have salary cap issues which would prevent such a move.