Maurice Jones-Drew officially became a holdout on Thursday by not reporting for the first day of Training Camp. MJD is underpaid, making just 9.3 million combined over the next two seasons and at age 27, he’s wise to hold out for one last big payday, especially since it looks like he’ll be stuck on a losing team for at least another year. However, the Jaguars still say they have no intentions of negotiating with Maurice Jones-Drew and want him to “fulfill his commitment,” though the Jaguars, like every other team in the league, often don’t fulfill their commitments to underachieving and overpaid players and cut them.
Jaguars fans should be prepared for a lengthy game of chicken between Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars’ front office. One side will almost definitely cave before the start of the season, so I don’t expect Maurice Jones-Drew to miss any games, but missing Training Camp and the Preseason, much like Chris Johnson did last offseason, could have a major negative effect on MJD’s production next season, especially with a new coaching staff coming in.
MJD is also coming off a season in which he led the league in carries, which could lead to him being worn out this season. Since 1988, only 4 of 23 running backs who led the league in carry surpassed their rushing yards total the following season. 2 of those backs were Emmitt Smith and one was a 22 year old Edgerrin James in his 2nd year in the league. The other was a 27 year old Clinton Portis, so it’s not impossible to do it several years into your career without being Emmitt Smith, but the numbers are against him. Portis also went on to break down the very next year (124/494/1) and was out of the league before his 30th birthday. MJD is 27, by the way.
Since 1988, backs who lead the league in carries have averaged 368.8 carries per season, rushed for 1621.0 yards, and scored 14.6 touchdowns. The following season, they averaged 273.8 carries per season, rushed for 1091.7 yards, and scored 9.2 touchdowns. An extended holdout won’t help matters. MJD accounted for a 90s-esque 47.7% of his team’s yards from scrimmage last year, so the Jaguars could be even worse this season offensively, unless a new coaching staff and some new weapons can turn Blaine Gabbert from lame duck to serviceable.
In fantasy leagues, meanwhile, MJD should be avoided in the 1st round, especially on such a desolate offense overall. Let him be someone else’s problem and if you do draft him at any point, make sure to draft handcuff Rashad Jennings, his top backup, as well. Jennings is also a nice high upside sleeper late for all owners.