All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew skipped the opening day of the team’s voluntary orientation for vets in what appears to be an agreement dispute. 10 cent baseball
Jones-Drew is lined up to earn $4.45 million this season, considerably less than fellow running backs Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch. 10 cent MLB lines
“It would have been pleasant to have Maurice Jones-Drew here,” new coach Mike Mularkey claimed. “I can’t ask any of them to be here. We want them to be here… just kind of get a feel for how we are, what they can expect from us and he just was one of the no-shows.”
Jones-Drew was one of two players under agreement not on hand for the start of the 3-day session. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton is sitting home following eye surgery. Place-kicker Josh Scobee also is not attending, but he still has to sign the team’s franchise tender and is hoping to get a long-term agreement done.
Jones-Drew reputedly wants one, too.
He led the NFL in rushing last season, gaining 1,606 yards for the league’s worst offense and making his 3rd consecutive Pro Bowl. He has 2 years left on a 5-year deal worth $31 million that he signed in 2009. The contract included $17.5 million warranted.
Mularkey said he had an idea Jones-Drew wouldn’t attend the minicamp as he skipped the last 2 weeks of offseason conditioning, but added that he was not aware whether Jones-Drew’s absence was contract related.
Jones-Drew was not required to attend, but surely Mularkey would have liked to have his greatest player and a team captain on hand for the beginning of his 1st season in Jacksonville.
“As I informed the team, I appreciated their work to be here,” Mularkey related. “Absolutely voluntary, no hard feelings, nothing held against you if you are not here. All we claimed was if you weren’t going to be here, please let us know that you will not be or if you are going to miss a day. That’s all we asked about him.”
Jones-Drew is entering his 7th season. He has 6,854 yards rushing, 2,473 yards receiving and 74 total touchdowns. He carried a career-high 343 times last season, averaging 4.7 yards even though defenses knew he was the point of interest of Jacksonville’s offense.
It makes sense that he would want a new contract after a job year. Plus, he’s considered underpaid compared to a few of the league’s other top backs. Johnson is getting $13.5 million annually. Foster is producing $8.7 million a year. And Lynch is earning $7.75 annually. St. Louis ‘ Steven Jackson, Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson also make more than Jones-Drew.
“I believe he knows how to condition himself at about that point in his career,” Mularkey declared. “We’d like him to be here, but again, for some unknown reason” he isn’t.
“When Maurice gets here, he goes to work,” tight end and college teammate Marcedes Lewis declared. “Obviously, he’s doing things his way at the moment. Hopefully we’ll get him out here soon. It’s what it is. I’m not mad at him. It’s the decisions you make. I know Maurice works hard, so after he gets here he’s going to be on his horse.”