When wide receiver Mike Wallace finally reported to the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday there remained only one holdout in the NFL–Jacksonville Jaguars running back and defending rushing champion Maurice Jones-Drew. Whether he’ll end up joining the team is something that still remains in question.
The standoff between MJD and the Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has been well-documented. Khan has insisted that he will not pay someone more money when the player still has two years on his current contract. Drew, on the other hand, would like his compensation to match his production.
Both sides have an argument here. Teams sign players to something other than one-year contracts because they are hoping that the player will end up becoming better than previously believed. If the player matches expectations then the contract is fair. Should he exceed expectations– like MJD did last season– then it’s a steal for the owner making the long-term contract a savvy move.
In all fairness to MJD, he is worth much more than he is getting paid right now. With the possibility of a career ending injury coming on any given play he wants to make sure he is getting what he is worth now while he still can.
Technically, MJD is out of luck in this situation. Khan does not have to pay him a single penny more as long as he is under contract. However, should Khan stick to his guns like he appears to be prepared to do, Jones-Drew stands to lose big in the end. MJD is a popular player with the fans; losing him will not be a popular move for a team that is always on the bubble when it comes to selling out home games.
Both parties need to learn from the situation Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans had a couple of seasons ago. Johnson wasted little time in becoming one of the best backs in the league joining the exclusive 2000+ yard club in just his second season. Like MJD, he wanted to be properly compensated. Like the Jags, the Titans were happy with his contract the way it was.
In the end, the Titans figured out a way to get Johnson some more money then; Johnson was appeased and he went on to have another solid season. When it came time for him to renegotiate his contract he and the team did.
Recently it appeared as if there might be a change in the stand-off. MJD appeared to soften his stance a little. Hope was buoyed when head coach Mike Mularkey commented on how he could still see MJD starting in Week One. However, when Mularkey changed his tune and said Rashad Jennings would be starting the hope quickly dissipated.
History is there for us to learn by; Shahid Khan and Maurice Jones-Drew need to do just that and put this mess to bed.