On my way to work this morning I listened in to one of the local Denver sports radio shows. The enthusiastic discussion was all about how the Broncos should do everything possible to go grab Maurice Jones-Drew, the disgruntled running back from the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a trade. Apparently the radio hosts had conducted an informal poll already that morning among listeners and the majority were in favor of such a move. Here's why it's a terrible idea.
Consider Why Jones-Drew Is Holding Out In the First Place
Jones-Drew has two years left on his current contract with the Jaguars. He's set to be paid $4.45 million and $4.95 million in 2013. He clearly thinks he's outplayed his current contract (averaging 1,430 yards and 9 touchdowns since 2009 season), and I believe he is right. He's been a very productive back for the Jaguars in the six years he's played for them, but the last three seasons have been outstanding.
His leverage is as good as it's ever going to get. He's coming off a year in which he led the league in yards (1,606), yards per game (100.4), and rushing attempts (343). His stock will never be higher. NEVER. That's why he knows that this might be his best chance at pulling in a new, more lucrative, contract with an exorbitant signing bonus. I can't fault him for holding out of preseason trying to get more money at this stage in his career when he has proven himself.
What Would Broncos Have To Give Up For Him?
Jacksonsville won't part with Jones-Drew without significant compensation because, very frankly, he's their offense. I also consider Jones-Drew, when healthy, to be a top-5 NFL running back. A very high-round draft pick (or two) and/or a decent player (or two) would be the minimum I think the Broncos would have to give to the Jaguars to get him. We all know that the Bronocs are not injury risk-averse (see: Peyton Manning signing), I don't think they'd be willing to give up that much to get Jones-Drew. However, if the Jaguards were willing to take a third-round or lower pick along with another running back (Knowshon Moreno comes to mind), I'd be all for the trade. It's all about value.
Reasons Why The Broncos Won't Go Grab Jones-Drew
He's a 5'7", 210 lb running back who has averaged over 300 rushing attempts every year for the past three years. While it is possible to maintain a high level of success without a significant injury for a very long time in the NFL, it's rare at the running back position (LaDanian Tomlinson is the only running back in the past decade that comes to mind). In 2011 he had 343 rushes. In 2010, he had 299 rushes despite missing two complete games with an injury at the end of the season (otherwise he would have finished the league leader then as well). He could start to break down physically at any time.
Jones-Drew is someone who, because of his size and his work load the past three years (including career-high totals in 2011), is at a very high risk of injury. Add to that the fact that he's missed training camp, and understand that he either a) won't report to any team in perfectly fit game shape and is then at even higher risk of injury at 28-years old, or b) could repeat the 2011 season of Chris Johnson. Remember when Johnson held out last year wanting a new contract? He missed almost the entirety of pre-season and it took him until week 10 to acqiure his second 100-yard rushing game. Jones-Drew may or may not win his new contract, but he's destined to have a significantly worse 2012 simply because he's not at training camp.
If the Broncos traded for Jones-Drew and didnt' have to give up very much, I'd be okay with that. However, as Jones-Drew is by far the best offensive player the Jaguars have, the Broncos would have to pay out the nose to get him. There simply wouldn't be enough value in acquiring him at this point in his career. The Broncos just won't take that risk.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor and writes about the Denver Broncos for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong football fan, she's been following the Broncos since moving to town in 2001.