Maurice Jones-Drew is screwed. The Jaguars know it. Jaguars fans know it and MJD himself probably knows it.
The Jaguars' 27-year-old running back has two years remaining on his contract and has been a holdout throughout all of Jacksonville's training camp in protest of his contract, a five-year deal signed in 2009.
A team handing out a new deal with one year remaining isn't unusual; a new deal with two years remaining is. Owner Shad Khan and the Jaguars do not want to set a precedent of paying a player two years before his deal is up. Besides, the Jaguars bet on MJD before he was the proven back he is today, so they're expecting him to now honor that bet. They're not going to make that bet twice.
Alfie Crow at Big Cat Country provides some context to MJD's request for a new deal:
Now Jones-Drew wants a new deal, for leading the league in rushing on one of the worst offenses in the league and because other backs around him, including other players repped by his agent, are getting big time deals. Now that the Jaguars have made it totally clear they will not cave to his demands, he's asking for a trade.
What went from a relatively quiet holdout seemingly exploded overnight.
Meeting with reporters about the Jaguars-to-London announcement on Tuesday, Khan was asked about MJD's absence and said, "The train is leaving the station. Run, get on it." This comes a few weeks after Khan said MJD's absence barely registered on a scale of 1-10.
Meme Watch: MJD Misses The Train
That prompted a response from the MJD camp, who began leaking word that he's "open" to being traded, which is a very close cousin of demanding a trade. Holding out of training camp was a mistake from which he could recover; talking about a trade and leaving Jacksonville is something he may not be able to recover from.
Fans side with the team in the vast majority of these situations. Fans are loyal to the team, not the player. Already the fans are on their way to fully turning against MJD. I'm not sure if he just didn't realize that would happen (if so, his agent should know better) or if he was wiling to break that bond he's held with the only NFL team he's ever known.
Khan is a new owner and a lot of people are watching how he handles this. This is a big moment for him and he likely knows it. Those who know the team best don't see Khan changing his mind.
Owner Shad Khan is a smart business man, and if he was not willing to cave on giving Jones-Drew a new deal, why would he cave and allow Jones-Drew out with a trade? Facilitating the trade over a contract dispute would would be caving all the same as caving with a new contract. Not to mention the fact that Jones-Drew has absolutely no leverage whatsoever.
MJD has virtually no leverage. He's eligible for $30,000 in fines for each day of training camp missed. If he doesn't show up this season, his contract will just reset to next year, which would put him in the exact same situation ... only a year older. The Jaguars seemingly haven't even blinked without him.
Earlier on Tuesday, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports wrote that many players in the Jaguars' locker room believe MJD will show up soon.
That was before Khan's "The train is leaving the station" comments.
How many of them are expecting him to show up now?