Jags Sign Jones-Drew
Jacksonville, FL - Maurice Jones-Drew was one of the most productive running backs in the league the last three years, totaling 6,003 all-purpose yards and scoring 40 touchdowns despite splitting time with Fred Taylor.
With Taylor now out of the picture, the Jaguars expect even more from Jones-Drew.
His new deal proves it, too.
Jones-Drew signed a five-year, $31 million contract Wednesday with Jacksonville that includes $17.5 million guaranteed.
``It really was a matter of wanting more Maurice,'' Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. ``We want Maurice on the field more often. We believe he's a feature guy and it's his time. We're excited about that.''
``I'm very confident this is the type of young man that will go out and continue to display the things that have made him so popular to begin with,'' Del Rio said. ``He's gonna get plenty of work. We're excited about getting him the ball more often.
``We were doing the best that we could as a staff of recognizing the talent and paying the respect to Fred while he was here and couldn't wait to get Maurice in the game. Now, he's our guy.''
Jones-Drew has 2,533 yards rushing and 1,408 yards receiving since Jacksonville made him a second-round draft pick in 2006. He has averaged 4.8 yards a carry, 9.5 yards a reception and been at his best in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
He rarely fumbles, has few dropped passes and has a knack for making big plays and scoring touchdowns. He has become a leader in the locker room and a fan favorite because of his fearlessness, friendliness and flair for turning negative plays into first downs.
``I still love the game,'' Jones-Drew said. ``I'm going to play the way I play. Nothing's going to change. You see some guys get paid and they kind of shut it down. That's not how I was raised, that's not how I ever played the game before. I'm going to continue to play and work hard and do everything I can to help this team win.''
ns. He was one of the few bright spots on a team that was hampered by three key injuries along the offensive line and chemistry issues in the locker room.
The Jaguars struggled to a 5-11 finish, and players eventually pointed fingers at receiver Jerry Porter and cornerback Drayton Florence. The two signed huge free agent contracts before the season, then did little to merit the money.
Team owner Wayne Weaver responded by cleaning house. He parted ways with longtime personnel director James ``Shack'' Harris and several assistant coaches and then released Porter, Florence, Taylor and defensive end Paul Spicer. He also released troubled receiver Matt Jones and chose not to re-sign several free agents, including linebacker Mike Peterson, left tackle Khalif Barnes and receiver Reggie Williams.
Weaver vowed to be more frugal in free agency this time around, but remained committed to signing Jones-Drew to a long-term deal.
``It's an opportunity with Maurice to kind of reward one of our own, someone who's performed on and off the field,'' general manager Gene Smith said. ``I don't have a son, but if I did, Maurice would be someone I would love to have as a son.
``He's done the right things in the community, has passion for his profession and presents himself as one of the faces of our franchise.''
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Posted: 4/16/09 12:45AM ET