Perhaps Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan was feeling particularly confident following quarterback Blaine Gabbert's impressive preseason performance against the New Orleans Saints in Jacksonville's 27-24 Week 3 preseason victory. Or, perhaps Khan is simply maintaining the stance he's had all along -- that franchise running back Maurice Jones-Drew won't get an extension of the five-year, $30.95 million contract he signed in 2009. Jones has held out through the entire preseason, believing that his value is far above his current salary. Khan, however, has never seen it that way.
"There's no decision here,'' Jags owner Shad Khan said in late July. "It's his choice. There's been very little for us to do rather than wait on whatever he might choose to do ... There's more than 50 players [on the team] under contract. There are other people under contract in management, coaches. Does that mean if you do it for one, you do it for everybody. Where do you draw the line?''
On Tuesday, Khan upped the ante by saying of Jones-Drew that "The train is leaving the station. Run. Get on it.''
Jones-Drew's side has not been impressed. They're comparing the deal of a back who led the NFL in rushing last season with 1,606 yards with the deals enjoyed by Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million, $30 million guaranteed), Chris Johnson (four years, $53.5 million, $30 million guaranteed), LeSean McCoy (five years, $45.6 million, $20.8 million guaranteed), Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million, $20.8 million guaranteed), and Matt Forte (four years, $32 million, $18 million guaranteed)
"Obviously he's not happy that what started as a very cordial and private conversation is now public and contentious," Adisa Bakari, Jones-Drew's agent, told Mark Long of the Associated Press. "Maurice wants to play for an organization that wants him and for an owner that respects him and values what he brings to a team on the field, in the locker room and in the community."
ESPN reported on Tuesday that Jones-Drew, who has two years left on his current contract and will make a bit over $9 million in base salary total in 2012 and 2013, would now be open to a trade.
In that report, Khan said he is "not going to get into all the theses and hypotheses," adding that Jones-Drew is "a great player, and we would love for him to be back."
But at what cost? Most likely, what Jones-Drew is already set to earn. The possibility of a contract extension is dimming all the time, and common perception is that Jones-Drew will capitulate and return to the team before he would lose any money in his current contract -- and if the Jaguars wanted to, they could fine Jones-Drew $20,000 for each day of missed minicamp, and $30,000 for each missed day of training camp. To date, those fines would total $870,000.
Jones-Drew clearly believes that the Jags can't get along without him. The Jags, who may want to see what they have in reserve running back Rashad Jennings (who ran 11 times for 62 yards against the Saints), seem unwilling to bend.