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No one look now, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are playing with fire.
Or, possibly even worse than that. The Jags' are flirting with danger, poking the bear, neglecting the massive storm clouds hovering ahead, eagerly pressing that big red shiny button and allowing the worst possible case scenario to unfold right before the team with total arrogance.
As of this moment, Jacksonville has no intention of re-working Maurice Jones-Drew's current contract. This bold news is coming despite the sure-fire lock of a Pro-Bowl running back adamantly stating that he wants to amend (or extend is the better word) his current deal.
MJD is coming off a career year in which he led the NFL in rushing, was essentially the entire offense in Jacksonville and established himself (if there was any doubt before) as the top running back in the NFL.
With two-years remaining on his current contract, one in which he is being severely underpaid in comparison to other top backs around the league, MJD is hoping to not only get a bigger pay day, but also lock himself in as the future in Jacksonville.
And.. the Jaguars' front office is putting the kabosh on it.
We're speaking of the same running back that has tallied a mesmerizing 74 total touchdowns in just six short seasons. The same player who has not only emerged as a true leader on a young team, but also as a threat to any opposing defense on the ground and through the air.
Look up the term utility man in the dictionary -- it's going to be a slick photo of MJD standing in the end zone with that ear to ear smile on his face.
Jacksonville is neglecting to re-work him to a new deal given that he is already making a relatively large chunk of change over the next two-years -- $4.45 million in 2012 and $4.95 million in 2013. The team is going off the basis that he is still under contract and making enough money that there is almost no chance he would hold-out.
Thus far, Jones-Drew hasn't attended any of the team's voluntary workouts. But this is old news, as he hasn't in the past before any other season. But the rubber is going to meet the road very soon, as the Jags' will be hosting the first mandatory team mini-camp this Tuesday.
The punishment for not showing up? MJD would be slapped with a fine of up to $60,000.
In all likeliness, Jones-Drew will make an appearance at the camp. There's not a single player in the NFL that enjoys giving away money to prove a point, and especially when the fine is that large.
But that doesn't mean he's going to be happy about.
Not working with superstar players is a great way to lose them later on. The Jags' still have two more seasons with Jones-Drew under contract, but after that, it's any one's guess. Players have a tendency to remember when an organization is unwilling to work with them -- especially when it comes to wanting to sign an extension and re-work a deal.
The fact that MJD is offering to be the cornerstone in what will be an ongoing rebuilding project in Jacksonville and the Jags' are turning him down -- is alarming. The game plan of, we'll wait until later, isn't going to work.
It would seem that the Jags' would have taken notes from the situation in Chicago with Matt Forte, and instead would have looked to turn the situation into Philadelphia with LeSean McCoy. Evidently not.
Although Jacksonville's front office is going to feel the sting of dolling out more money, re-signing and re-working Jones-Drew's contract is must for the team moving forward. Even with two-years remaining, it's better to be safe and have the future secured than roll the dice with a player like MJD hitting the free agent market with a bad taste in his mouth.
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