Jacksonville Jaguars fans and, more importantly to most, fantasy football players can breathe a sigh of relief: All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew has reported to camp.
The NFL’s leading rusher last season with 1,606 yards had been a holdout all summer as he sought a new contract, despite the fact he had two years left on the five-year, $31-million contract he signed in 2009.
By reporting to camp, Jones-Drew will be eligible to receive his regular-season paychecks, valued at more than $9 million the next two seasons. Which he’ll need, since his 38-day holdout reportedly cost him $1.2 million in fines.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan appears to be the winner in this standoff. He refused to negotiate with the former UCLA star, who scored 11 times last season, including three on pass receptions. General Manager Gene Smith said that Jacksonville would not trade Jones-Drew and that he needed to report to camp in order to learn a new offensive system under Coach Mike Mularkey.
The big loser could be Rashad Jennings, and all those fantasy football owners who drafted him. Jennings will start the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings next week but surely will lose the starting job to Jones-Drew at some point.
Jennings played the role of good teammate, using Twitter to send this message: “Just shared some love with @jones_drew32 in the locker room. Glad to see you back — Let’s work brah!”
Jones-Drew has gained 6,854 yards rushing with 62 touchdowns in his career and 2,473 more yards receiving with 10 touchdowns.
His average annual salary, though, ranks behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, Houston’s Arian Foster, St. Louis’ Steven Jackson, Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
Wire service and Internet reports contributed to this story.