It's customary to see veteran players shy away from being part of rebuilding efforts, but veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew is an anomaly. He wants to stay in Jacksonville, and the Jaguars want him to stay. Now it's a matter of working out the contract.
Jones-Drew told the Associated Press that he's interested in remaining with the organization he began his career with in 2006:
"I want to be here. It's a fun environment. It's different than I've ever been a part of. It works. It takes time to build anything. It's starting to turn around for us, and we're starting to play well. That's exciting."
According to the AP, it's believed Jones-Drew could be offered a two-year deal worth as much as $10 million, provided he hits performance-based incentives.
The veteran's success has become directly tied to the Jaguars' three-game win streak by rushing for 264 yards at an efficient 6.4 yards per carry. A young Jacksonville roster is responding to first-year head coach Gus Bradley, who has concerned himself with being even-keeled and winning games without succumbing to outside pressure to make a knee-jerk move like signing hometown favorite and free-agent quarterback Tim Tebow.
As a result the Jaguars have a chance to close out the season with their best record since 2010. Jones-Drew wants to be a part of the team's leadership moving forward, transitioning his early-career role:
"I just want to be a leader. Back when I was young and doing some wild stuff, we had older guys that would be like, 'All right, calm down.' Well, now I look around here and I'm like, 'All right, where are these older guys at?' Oh, I'm one of them. So you've kind of got to change some things, especially with what we've been going through."
The Jaguars host the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans before closing out their season on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. A seven win season isn't outside the realm of possibility, and could prompt the team to double its efforts to retain its nucleus.