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2014 NFL Free Agents: Why Maurice Jones-Drew won’t be back with the Jaguars

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Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is scheduled to hit free agency, but the way the NFL Draft is shaping up it's unlikely he will return to Duval.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew is schedule to be an unrestricted free agent once the 2014 offseason officially begins in March. Previously it was noted that the team was not going to attempt to re-sign him prior to the start of free agency and will allow him to test the market.

Then came Jones-Drew noting that it was all about the money.

Then came all of the underclassman running backs declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Add all that to the pot and in my opinion it spells out Jones-Drew not returning to the Jaguars and his career in Jacksonville coming to an end. I think the Jaguars have already determined a price they're willing to pay to bring back Jones-Drew and I think Jones-Drew has determined that price isn't good enough for him to stay.

The free agent market is going to be flooded with running backs and Jones-Drew is clearly coming near the end of being a bell-cow production type running back. While the team had problems with their offensive line during the 2013 season, it's clear that Jones-Drew is slowing down and isn't as explosive as he used to be.

Excluding the 2012 season where Jones-Drew missed nearly the whole year with an injury, he's carried the ball 1,188 times over the past four seasons. If you include the 2012 season it's 1,274, meaning he's averaged 19 carries per game since he took over for Fred Taylor. By comparison, Taylor averaged carrying the ball 18 times per game during his Jaguars career.

Long story short; Jones-Drew has been run into the ground, so to speak, during the past five years as a Jaguars player and the wear and tear is clearly starting to show. With all that taken into account, it's understandable why the team doesn't appear to be willing to pay Jones-Drew anything significant.

The other factor that should weigh heavily on their decision is the fact that the running back class in the 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with talent. There have been nearly 20 underclassman running backs that have declared for the draft and a plenty of talented seniors that were already available. That means talented backs will be available in the mid-rounds, where the Jaguars have plenty of picks to mess around with.

The team can add two talented backs in the mid-rounds, cost controlled by the new CBA for at least three seasons. Running back is also the easiest position to transition to the NFL level.

TL, DR -- I don't think the Jaguars re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew because he likely won't take a cheap deal and the draft is loaded with running backs.