With the average lifespan of a starting NFL running back roughly equivalent to that of a wild rabbit, it was hard to blame Maurice Jones-Drew for holding out for a long-term contract extension with the Jacksonville Jaguars in training camp.
The team didn’t budge, and as the Jaguars are now crossing their fingers that the foot injury Jones-Drew suffered during Sunday’s loss in Oakland does not end his season, their front office staff is likely patting itself on the back for not caving to his demands.
Instead of shelling out to pay Jones-Drew the type of money Chris Johnson (4 years, $53.5 million), Adrian Peterson (7 years, $100 million), LeSean McCoy (5 years, $45.6 million) and other Pro Bowl running backs are making, the Jaguars decided to let their starting tailback play out the final two years of his five-year, $31 million deal.
Such is the life of the NFL running back.
Jones-Drew, 27, injured his left foot on his first carry against the Raiders, and after a brief return to the field, he was carted to the locker room. The three-time Pro Bowler returned to the sideline on crutches and in a walking boot. Jaguars Coach Mike Mularkey could announce the diagnosis at his Monday press conference.
“It didn’t feel right, so I didn’t want to go out there and hurt our team if I’m not feeling right,” Jones-Drew said after the game. “I’m just waiting until we get to Jacksonville to figure out what we’re going to do.”
The Jaguars went into the season believing they were equipped to move forward without their face-of-the-franchise tailback. But Jones-Drew finally reported to the team days before the regular season and a first-quarter injury to Rashad Jennings opened the door for a 19-carry, 77-yard season opener.
Jennings is back and played well after Jones-Drew went down, but it’s hard to imagine him providing a significant boost for an offense that ranks dead last in the NFL with 235.8 yards per game.