Jaguars to let MJD test market


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are going to let running back Maurice Jones-Drew test the market in free agency and then decide whether to try to re-sign the second-leading rusher in franchise history.

It also appears the Jaguars are going to keep quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the team's first-round draft pick in 2011, around for the final year of his contract -- unless they draft a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick.

General manager David Caldwell said Tuesday he didn't envision re-signing Jones-Drew, who has rushed for 8,071 yards and holds the franchise record with 81 touchdowns in eight seasons, before free agency beings in March. Caldwell also said he'll wait for Jones-Drew to get an offer from another team, then decide whether to match it.

Jones-Drew said Monday that he wants to finish his career in Jacksonville, but the decision will come down to money. He also said he has a number in mind but would not elaborate. Caldwell would not speak on that, either.

"I think he'll leave that up to his representation in terms of finding him the best value for his deal," Caldwell said. "I'm not pessimistic at all about it. I think he's earned the right to go to free agency. He's been a great player in this organization and he's had a great career and I think he's earned the right to go see what his value and his market is.

"It's our right to decide if we want to match it and bring him back."

The Jaguars have indicated that they want him back, but it will likely be a role in which he shares carries more than he has in the past. Jones-Drew ran for 803 yards and five touchdowns this season but his 3.4 yards per carry was the worst of his career. He says his production was down because he is little more than a year removed from Lisfranc surgery and was bothered by ankle, knee and hamstring issues.

Jones-Drew said he's still a feature back, and now that he's able to fully participate in offseason conditioning, he'll prove it in 2014. 

"There are some guys that don't need the offseason. They can just go out there and play ball," Jones-Drew said. "For me, the offseason is critical. I have to be able to train my body to be able to take the pounding that it takes each week, to be able to recover. I've been taking a lot of shots at my legs the last couple of years. I want to be able to get them back in shape and get ready to roll.

"This is going to be a critical offseason for me starting with the next couple of weeks, just getting back and ready to play."

Jones-Drew, who will be 29 years old in March, is a physical runner despite his 5-foot-7, 210-pound frame. He has a lot of mileage on his legs, too. He has carried the ball 1,804 times, caught 335 passes for 2,873 yards, and returned 70 kickoffs and 15 punts.

Caldwell said the Jaguars will address the running back position either through the draft or free agency even if Jones-Drew returns. First-year player Jordan Todman showed he can be a complementary back, but the Jaguars will likely release veteran Justin Forsett. Rookie Denard Robinson is still transitioning from quarterback to running back.

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