Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can we Please Holdout for some Common Sense?

As the NFL is buzzing with the start of training camps in most places, Jacksonville is buzzing because Maurice Jones-Drew is not at training camp. He wants a new deal after he lead the NFL in rushing last season, which is understandable. But, as with most holdouts, this situation is much more complex than that. And that has made it very hard for people to understand what is going on, which is distorting what is actually going on, and changing opinions of the many when only a few should.

MJD got a brand new contract before the 2009 season when he wasn't even the starter. He got a 5 year, $31 million deal (frontloaded), and the Jaguars hoped he would live up to the money of the deal. He certainly has. He has 2 years left on his deal, and he is not a highly paid running back now by any means from the rest of his deal. It doesn't help that he's seen guys like Matt Forte, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy all get lucrative deals while MJD (only he thinks this) is left out in the cold. Shad Khan, the new Jaguars owner, will not give him a new deal at this time, especially when he has many expiring contracts of players the Jags will certainly want to look at keeping come up at the end of this season. He has a ton of cap space to work with, but he'll need it to sign most of those guys. All of this continues while MJD both publicly and privately digs in his heels.

MJD knows full well, that he cannot win this battle with team, and drumming up support from the fans of the Jaguars will be pretty hard. He doesn't have allies in the front office either anymore, considering most of them left with Wayne Weaver. His agent, Adisa Bakari, also represents the Jaguars back-up, Rashad Jennings, and Matt Forte, the man who held out for a near century to get a new deal. Jones-Drew has also not privately told the Jaguars his plans, as they've found out hearing only media reports. That's not going to endear you to anyone. So, he doesn't look good in this. He doesn't care about it, so why should we?

The football and business sides of the holdout have been distorted tremendously. They have to a point where a non-story has been turned into a story, but still acts like a non-starter (h/t Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country for that line). If MJD was going to be a free agent in March, this would make sense. But, he has 2 years left, and it's clear Khan is not going to do anything. It also doesn't make him look good when Darrelle Revis, the king of the holdout, has reported to camp when his contract is up at the end of the season. Giving MJD a contract now would set a bad precedent for the organization, and would put them behind the 8-ball on many player contract battles. He can't afford himself a mistake like that only 6 months into his ownership tenure.

On the football side, his impact on the Jaguars has been overstated as well. Yes, he is the Jags best player, and he did lead the NFL in rushing despite the horrific pass offense last season, but people saying that his loss would make the Jaguars somehow worse if Blaine Gabbert played better is nonsense. Rashad Jennings is a capable running back that has done big things and could even more. The Jaguars aren't now going to trade MJD either, especially at this point in time. It doesn't do them, or the team he'd go to, any good. And, the likelihood that he actually holds out into the regular season is just absurd, for more reasons than one (he drafted himself with the #1 overall pick in his fantasy league). Sure he is a major catalyst for the Jaguars on offense, but he's not their most important player.

I am a Jaguars fan, so this might have seemed a bit ranty, but none of the things that the media are saying makes sense to me, as a Jaguars fan, who it would matter to the most. If Jones-Drew is still holding out one month from now, then it would be time to worry. But since most Jaguars fans expected this to happen, at this point, this is a non-starter, non-issue, and non-worry for us now.

No one else needs to tell us what we should feel, and they also shouldn't change opinion from the status quo when it's not justified.

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