MJD wants to ‘see it through’ with Jaguars

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew wants to stick around for the

next phase of Jacksonville’s rebuilding project.

Just not at a discounted rate.

Jones-Drew made it clear Monday that his future with the

franchise will be a fiscal decision, meaning his eighth season with

the Jaguars may have been his last. Jones-Drew likely will test

free agency before deciding whether to return to Jacksonville.

”I would love to see it through here, but … it’s a monetary

issue,” he said. ”That’s where we are now. It’s not about

football anymore. That’s part of the deal, part of the game.”

The NFL’s leading rusher in 2011, Jones-Drew just played out a

five-year, $31 million contract. He earned $4.95 million in

2013.

Jones-Drew declined to talk numbers Monday, but he sounded

resigned to a potential move.

”Hopefully I can stay here, but that’s not up to me,” he said.

”It’s time to sit back with my family and talk and see what’s best

for us. I have three kids, don’t want to move them around, but if

that’s the case, then it has to be done. We’ll see. There are some

other variables.”

Jones-Drew finished with 803 yards rushing and five touchdowns

this season. He missed most of the offseason following left foot

surgery and missed a game and weeks of practice with a strained

right hamstring.

Critics argue that Jones-Drew, who turns 29 in March, has lost a

step and hasn’t been the same since gaining 1,606 yards on 343

carries in 2011. They also insist his running style – he welcomes

contact and gains most of his yards between the tackles – will

shorten his career.

Others, including Jones-Drew, believe he will return to Pro Bowl

form once he fully recovers from his foot injury.

”I still feel like I can compete with anybody,” Jones-Drew

said. ”It was hard this (past) offseason. I really didn’t get a

chance to train. I rehabbed and I couldn’t really do anything until

March. Then we had to do the whole walking deal all over again.

That took a month and a half. Then we had to do the running deal.

That took about two months.

”Then I was able to start training, but it wasn’t really

training when you have to back off sometimes because my foot would

be sore or other things would start to hurt a little bit.”

Despite those injuries, Jones-Drew played in 15 games and

continued to be the face of the franchise.

He’s a popular figure in Jacksonville, but certainly not

replaceable.

And with the Jaguars almost certain to draft a quarterback in

May, it’s conceivable that Jones-Drew’s days as the centerpiece of

the offense are over even if he sticks around.

”It would be kind of weird not to see him over there,” fellow

running back Denard Robinson said. ”I always look for him for

guidance. I can’t control what they want to do, but I really want

him to come back.”

With Jones-Drew leading the way, the Jaguars (4-12) enjoyed a

modest turnaround in the second half of the season. They finished

4-4 over the final eight games after losing their first eight by

double digits. Nonetheless, they are still in rebuilding mode.

Jacksonville has 10 draft picks and plans to add a few free

agents.

The biggest question is whether Jones-Drew will be around for

the next stage. Or has he played his final game with for the

Jaguars?

”If it was, I gave it everything I had,” Jones-drew said.

”Every game I played I left it all on the field. That’s all you

can do. I understand how this game is. Just play as hard as you can

for as long as you can and hopefully you did it the right way so

the people understand and they respect you for it.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org