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MJD figures to be one of the most attractive running backs in the 2014 NFL free agent class
The Jacksonville Jaguars are 1-8 this season, tied with Tampa Bay for the worst record in the NFL. The only thing Jaguars fans really have to look forward to at this point is next season, and whatever the future holds for this struggling franchise, one important decision will have to be made.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew will be a free agent after this season. A second-round pick (60th overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft, Jones-Drew has 7,700 rushing yards in eight seasons. The league's leading rusher in 2011 with 1,606 yards, injuries limited MJD to just six games last season and he has struggled with his production so far (432 yards in nine games) this season. That said, he will won't turn 29 until next March and figures to draw plenty of interest from other teams looking to add a three-time Pro Bowler to their roster. Should Jacksonville make Jones-Drew an offer he can't refuse to keep him in a Jaguars uniform long term or should the team bid the franchise's all-time No. 2 rusher a fond farewell? Athlon editors Mark Ross and Nathan Rush offer their thoughts on the future of the diminutive running back.
Lest we forget, it wasn't too long ago that Maurice Jones-Drew was one of the NFL's most productive running backs. In 2011, the bowling ball known as MJD led the entire league in rushing with 1,606 yards. A serious foot injury derailed him the following season, and it's not out of the question to say it's still bothering him. However, the real issue for Jacksonville's running game is its offensive line. According to ProFootballFocus.com the Jaguars' O-line is the worst in the NFL when it comes to run blocking. Certainly losing left tackle Luke Joeckel, the second overall pick of April's draft, to a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 doesn't help, but it also sheds some light on what the Jags' main problem is — an overall lack of talent throughout the roster. Jones-Drew is a proven All-Pro-caliber running back who is still less than 30 years old and, in my opinion, has plenty of tread (career average of 214 carries per season) left on his tires. He certainly won't be cheap to re-sign, but money shouldn't be an issue in this instance, especially for billionaire owner Shahid Khan. Besides, who else can you expect the fans to come out and watch. Blaine Gabbert?
— Mark Ross
Re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew? The Jags should've traded him last year or two years ago when he still had some gas in the tank. Mojo's only wasting away in J-Ville. His value to the Jaguars is maximized as a trade asset and minimized as a player for such a pitiful team. Unfortunately, the running back trade market is nonexistent for anyone not named Trent Richardson. MJD has a lengthy injury history and plenty of wear on his tires. His best days were as Fred Taylor's tag team duo partner back when Jack Del Rio was coaching and Jacksonville was a playoff contender. Those days are long gone and Jones-Drew should be too. There's absolutely no reason for the Jags to re-sign their highest profile player.
— Nathan Rush