Maurice Jones-Drew is unhappy about his contract, and he is staying away from Jaguars offseason team activities to show his displeasure with the five-year deal he signed prior to the 2009 campaign.
Our sources in North Florida tell PFW the contract extension that Jones-Drew is pining for isn’t coming anytime soon.
Jones-Drew, the 2011 NFL rushing champion, has yet to say publicly that his absence from OTAs is because he wants an extension; rather that information was revealed by head coach Mike Mularkey last week. Word is Jones-Drew likely will join his teammates June 12 for mandatory minicamp to avoid having his salary docked. We’re also hearing that Jones-Drew is likely to downplay his absence, pointing to his preference to work out in his home state of California during the offseason rather than as a sign of unhappiness about his current deal.
The biggest question, we hear, regarding the Jones-Drew situation isn’t whether the Jaguars, who control his rights for the next two years, will offer him an extension — it is what type of presence will Jones-Drew be once he joins the team this summer.
One source close to the situation recalled the 2008 season, when Jones-Drew’s former teammate, LB Mike Peterson, tried — unsuccessfuly — to leverage a new deal in training camp, only to carry his unhappiness into the season and become a distraction. Peterson was at odds with former head coach Jack Del Rio, eventually being benched by Del Rio for insubordination. The source didn’t suggest Jones-Drew could be a similar problem — rather stressing the importance of avoiding a similar situation, particularly because Mularkey needs his best player to be a positive influence as the coach begins to create a new working environment for the club.
The source also mentioned Jones-Drew’s conditioning as something to monitor. Prior to his career year last season, Jones-Drew showed up in terrific shape coming off the lockout and offseason knee surgery last year. But in 2010, Jones-Drew was not in the best shape when he arrived for offseason work and ended up suffering an injury during training camp.