In a column I wrote only one day ago, I alluded to what’s been a horrifically boring and disillusioning offseason for the Jaguars and their fanbase. If you thought that piece was depressing, I’m not sure you’ll be a huge fan of this one either.
If this team is intent on mailing it in next season, and it certainly looks that way, it’s time they shipped Maurice Jones-Drew out of town. It’s not going to be the popular move, should it happen, but at this point in his career and taking into account where the Jaguars are at as a franchise, it’s the right move.
When the Jaguars brought in Mike Mularkey last season, they let the league know they were ready to fix their passing game. Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne may not have been on the same page as management, but they at the very least hoped to move past the days of depending entirely upon Jones-Drew for any offense. It’s a passing league, and leaning on Jones-Drew hadn’t yielded results to that point, so it only seemed right.
One year, and another coaching change later this team’s trying to fix last year’s glaring weakness: defense. Another year, and another deficiency in these sad sack Jaguars.
So they couldn’t fix the passing game, the defense found a way to get worse, and any good parts from last year’s team are all but gone. Sounds a lot like they’re starting a length rebuilding process. While they struggle to build a competitive defense and much to the chagrin of their fans develop Blaine Gabbert, the only clear thing going into next season is that, much like last year, they’re still going to, well, suck.
Which brings me to my next point. By the time this team is competitive, and that could take a while, Jones-Drew will be of no use to them. At 28 years old, and only one year removed from leading the league in rushing, his trade value won’t get any higher than it is now. He just so happens to be two years away from the dreaded 3-0, which generally spells the end of elite play at running back.
If all Jones-Drew can add to this team, is a lower draft pick by virtue of the one game he might be able to steal them, doesn’t it make sense to get an oh so valuable draft pick so he can do so elsewhere?
The Jags can expect to get no better than a second rounder for Jones-Drew at this point, but that will be a lot more valuable to this franchise long term than they could ever hope Jones-Drew will be. Best of all for the Jags, running backs have gone largely untouched since the start of free agency. Should they trade Jones-Drew, they can easily find another running back to carry the load - running backs are a dime a dozen. Whoever take his place won't replace his production, or even come close, but simply get them game to game as they struggle towards another year and another high draft pick.
It would be a crying shame for Jones-Drew’s time with the Jags to end this way, but at this point it just seems right for both sides. Jones-Drew can get a chance to play for a winning team, and the Jags get another draft pick they desperately need. Not to mention the cap space, which they don’t really need. Besides, what do the Jaguars have to lose? They did just go 2-14...
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