With the Super Bowl set to kick off tomorrow, Jaguars players past and present made their rounds on radio row to discuss a variety of topics including the team’s 2019 season, and their future. Retired Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew recently sat down with Brent Martineau on Action Sports Jax, ESPN 690AM to discuss a variety of topics including the team’s future with one of their star players — defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Jones-Drew retired in 2015 as the team’s second-greatest running back in team history behind legendary tailback Fred Taylor with 8,071 rushing yards in team history including 68 rushing touchdowns, 335 receptions for 2873 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. One of the most productive tailbacks in league history.
Jones-Drew stated in his interview with Martineau that he has been in contact with Ngakoue, however he wants to keep personal business, personal.
“We did have a conversation though, yesterday, and I think the biggest thing is communication,” Jones-Drew said. “Don’t play the game in the media. That’s kinda where mine went a little bit, and I refused to do that because to me we’re talking about business.
“That doesn’t need to be going in the media,” Jones-drew continued. “It needs to be face-to-face we need to sit down and have a conversation, I can tell you how I feel, you can tell me how you feel and we can move on. Either we agree or we don’t or we agree to disagree — it is what it is.”
During his tenure with the Jaguars, Jones-Drew faced a similar dilemma as Ngakoue. In 2011, while the team’s star running back was already on a multi-year deal, the prospect of being paid what he viewed as his worth at the time led to him holding out in a very public, drama-filled fashion. According to the retired running back, at one point the communication between himself (his agents) and the team, was completely cut off, it was at that point he knew it was a bad deal, Jones-Drew explained.
While with the Rams as an analyst, Jones-Drew provided a little advice to the team regarding their own situation with Aaron Donald — a player holding out at the time for a new contract while still on his previous deal.
“We talked and I told them — I was like ‘the one point that got me more than anything was just they didn’t want to talk to me.’ When my agent met with them at the combine they didn’t want to talk to me. They talked about other people, other players right? After we had already kinda started a little bit of negotiating before the team was sold.
“Then throughout that whole offseason they wouldn’t talk to me until I didn’t show up for training camp and then all of a sudden was like ‘where are you?’ ‘like what do you mean where am I? I’ve been trying to talk to you for the last six months like you think I’m gonna show up?’”
Although Ngakoue held out for only 11 days during training camp in 2019, the pitfalls which come with holdouts appear to be similar. The Jaguars have yet to re-sign their star pass rusher although Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has stated multiple times that the team will make him a priority moving forward. Caldwell reiterated this during the Senior Bowl and said that the deal may take a little bit of time, however it “should be done hopefully relatively easily.”
The Jaguars had an opportunity to re-sign Ngakoue prior to the 2019 season, however talks reportedly fell through and the fourth-year veteran decided to play out the last year of his contract accumulating 36 solo tackles, 13 tackles-for-loss, 15 quarterback hits, and eight sacks. His eight sacks last season moved Ngakoue to second all-time in franchise history with 37.5 career sacks.
After trading star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. over the past couple of seasons, Jones-Drew feels the Jaguars have to make sure to take care of Ngakoue. “That (contract) should have been taken care of a long time ago,” he said. “Take care of it early. My parents always told me, ‘you’re gonna pay. Either you’re gonna pay now or you’re gonna pay later, but you’re gonna pay.’”