Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has decided not to report to the beginning of the Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 training camp on Thursday, making his holdout beyond official. Jones-Drew had skipped the voluntary and mandatory mini-camps and workouts earlier in the offseason, and now has apparently dug his heels in the search for a new contract.
The problem with that however, is the Jaguars have also dug in their heels, with owner Shad Khan stating publicly that Jones-Drew would not be receiving a new contract. Reports have now surfaced that Jones-Drew is "angry" with the team for not giving him a new deal and is willing to push the envelope.
While I understand why Jones-Drew wants a new contract, I don't understand this: What is the end game here?
What does Jones-Drew hope to accomplish with all of this? Does he believe that it's going to lead him to a new deal? Does he believe it's going to force the team to trade him to a team who will give him a new deal?
The only thing Jones-Drew is accomplishing at this moment is pissing everyone, including the fans, off.
The fact of the matter is Jones-Drew has absolutely zero leverage with his holdout. Even with Jones-Drew leading the NFL in rushing in 2011, the team went 5-11 and was a non-factor in a handful of games. While an impressive feat, it didn't really seem to add a whole lot to the team's overall record. If Jones-Drew skips out the 2012 season and the Jaguars wind up 4-12 and miss the playoffs again, there is no real difference. Certainly not enough to wield any kind of leverage.
Not to mention the fact that Jones-Drew is asking the team to pay for the same thing twice. Jones-Drew was given a five-year, $31 million contract prior to the 2009 season. This was before Jones-Drew took over as the feature back, backing up Fred Taylor in the previous seasons. The team showed a lot of faith in Jones-Drew, giving him a Top 5 running back contract at the time and parting ways with Taylor, a longtime staple of the team. Jones-Drew asking for a new deal based on his past season's work is now asking for the Jaguars to pay for the same thing twice, which I can't imagine they will do.
Couple that fact with the fact that Jones-Drew is an "old" 27-year-old running back. The past three seasons he has averaged 318 carries a season, toting the rock 342 times in 2012. He's also dealt with a knee injury, which required surgery, and has clearly lost some of the explosion he once had making him almost a "grinder" type running back.
There really is no reason, with two-years left on his current contract, for the Jaguars to cave. While some may call for him to be traded if he plans to hold out, that's also caving to cater to a player with a contract dispute. The Jaguars are under new ownership, with a new coaching staff, and a new lease on life if you will. This doesn't look like a precedent Khan wants to set and he also doesn't strike as a business man who's going to cave in to demands. Jones-Drew also doesn't have the allies in the Jaguars building that he once had, now that Jack Del Rio is in Denver.
Jones-Drew is still likely going to skip out on on training camp, but what his end game is still looks rather murky. There's a point where being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn hurts your career.