A little media attention never hurt anyone, especially if you’re the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ranking sixth in overall defense last season raised some eyebrows, but it doesn’t compare to the Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout of the present. He is the rushing champion of last season as well as one of the tops back in the NFL, yet there is one more kicker adding to the case of this high profile holdout. He is also holding many fantasy owners in limbo.
Outside of causing hands to foreheads for fantasy owners, as well as GM Gene Smith and new owner Shahid Khan, MJD’s absence is affecting himself and the team in a variety of ways. For starters, he’s never met his new head coach Mike Mularkey as well as installing the playbook with his teammates. The longer the “negotiations” take, the bigger the learning curve gets.
Another impact is to the running back position. Currently, the unquestioned stater in place is Rashad Jennings, a three year veteran entering his contract year. You know what they say about players in their contract year? If MJD holds out, the Jags will have a capable back in Jennings who has averaged 5.4 yards on 123 carries in two seasons. MJD is also not a guarantee to be a home run hitter next season. The future is uncertain when it comes to players coming out of a holdout. One could look to Chris Johnson’s lack of burst last season, or to a player like Marshall Faulk in 1999, who ended up leading his team to the Superbowl.
The next player impacted by MJD’s holdout is Justin Blackmon. Blackmon is the Jaguars new expensive toy and it will take a while for both parties to agree on his contract. Compare Blackmon to a Ferrari, both are flashy, polished and worth a lot of money, but they also require the right insurance policy for any damage along the way. With the rookie salary scale in place, Blackmon is set to receive between $16-20 Million. However, the language of the contract, or insurance policy, is slowing down talks. If MJD’s holdout continues, the Jaguars may feel compelled to rush along the contract to minimize any collateral damage to the offense. Gabbert needs all the help he can get, and Blackmon is part of the answer.
Another impact it has for the Jaguars is on second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Assuming MJD does not show for the season, the Jags may be more inclined to throw as Jennings may not be able to handle the workload like MJD. The Jags spent their money on retooling the passing attack this off season after finishing dead last the season prior. Once again Gabbert may have to throw early and often in an attempt to put points on the board if Jennings cannot fit into his new role.
The last impact to be mentioned is to players, owners, and any personnel around the league. MJD deserves to be paid like a star running back should be with the body of work he’s compiled over the years. He started as a jack of all trades retuning kicks and punts, as well as spelling Fred Taylor until his eventual start. However, MJD took a contract extension two years ago that was front loaded, which was in his best interest.
Now with two years left, he’s disappointed he’s not payed like a top 5 back, who are all on the first few years of their deals. It seems unfair from MJD’s stand point to hold out considering he has already been paid a great deal as well as having two years remaining on his contract. Players holding out with one year are almost like franchise tag players who want a long term deal, which is now a mainstream strategy for any player. The front office seems adamant in their stance to not budge. For the Jaguars sake, I hope they stand their ground. If they choose to crumble and cave in on MJD’s demand, the ripple effects could be disastrous. Dave Dameshek would definitely have material for his, “N if L” series in the future, as many players may follow in foot and holdout as did MJD. Power would shift and it would be a turbulent ride as many players would not take the field as they point the finger back at this deal.
Like most players say, “ At the end of the day”, the Jaguars need both players to lace up there cleats and come out to play.