It was bad timing for Maurice. He was in a contract year, coming off an injury and wasn’t as productive as even he expected. “I need to work on my speed in the offseason,” he told us. “I still see myself as the starter,’ he followed up with, kind of a code for “I’ll want starter money in my next deal.”
With that history behind him and a football leadership that had no emotional ties to him, it wasn’t surprising that GM Dave Caldwell announced that they were going to let Maurice “test the free-agent waters.” That’s also kind of a code for, “We couldn’t work out a deal for the money he wants. Let him try and get that somewhere else.” So free agency started and MJD wasn’t quite a hot commodity.
The Jaguars were interested in him coming back in a complimentary role, willing to pay him for that effort, not starter’s money. “It’s still possible,” Caldwell said as late as this past Monday at the owners meeting in Orlando. Caldwell knew at the time that MJD had visited several clubs (reportedly Miami and Pittsburgh among them) and hadn’t been happy with the role or the money being offered. They’d take him back, but on their terms.
Instead, Jones Drew went back to Oakland for a second time and signed a reported three-year deal with the Raiders. It’s his hometown and ironically he’ll be replacing the spot on the Oakland roster that had been filled by another former Jaguar, Rashad Jennings last year. (Jennings signed with the Giants as a free agent)
So you can call it a win-win. Maurice gets to go back home and the Jaguars are upgraded at RB with the acquisition of Toby Gerhardt in free agency. They expect Todman and Robinson to share some of the load, not unlike most NFL teams do at the running back position.
No question he was the one bright star in a very dark time for the Jaguars, particularly on offense. I just wonder sometimes had he approached it a little differently, what might have been.
I wonder if he does as well.