It’s probably taking longer than Maurice Jones-Drew thought to find himself a new team and the contract he seeks, but he’s getting plenty of interest around the league. First from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and now also from the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
It’s been a couple of rough years for Jones-Draw, dragged down by his own injuries, contract battles, getting older and simply playing for an awful team. After rushing for 1606 yards in 2011, which included carrying the ball 343 times, which usually means a huge drop off later in his career, he’s been sub-par and injured the following two season. In 2012 he played only six games, averaging 69 yards per game. In 2013? He missed only one game, but averaged an awful 3.4 yards per carry, the first time he’s averaged less than 4.2 yards in a season.
But it doesn’t mean teams don’t want him: It just means the salary he was used to getting ($4.95 million last season) isn’t coming his way anymore. He or his reps will meet with the Patriots, Jets, Dolphins and Steelers during the league meeting, and all four teams are interested in him, as long as the price he is demanding starts dropping.
It’s not a good time to be a running back in the NFL unless you’re one of the best. And Jones-Drew, at 29, after two seasons with a combined 1217 yards over 21 games, simply isn’t in that caliber anymore, and unlikely to be there again.
Obviously, he’s looking to get paid, but there is a chance for him to find middle ground with the teams interested in him if he works towards a bonus-filled contract, which might convince his new employers to give him a shot. A three-time Pro Bowler, a one time All-Pro; Jones-Drew still has some football left in him, even at the highest level, but it’s on him to prove he’s worth taking the shot, and it’ll probably fall on him to take the financial hit, which means a serious decrease in his salary and prorated bonus.