The trade rumors circling Maurice Jones-Drew have only intensified as his holdout from signing a new contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars continues. Now that the running back has communicated through his agent that he'd be open to a trade, the conversations have reached a fever pitch even before the NFL season has officially begun.
Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday that teams have started calling Jacksonville and inquiring about the availability of last season's leading rusher. Jones-Drew has two years remaining on the five year deal he signed in 2009 that was worth $31 million. MJD - as he's come to be known throughout the league - is set to earn $4.45 million in 2012 and $4.95 million in 2013.
Jags fans will remember that when Jones-Drew signed that contract he was seen as the replacement for veteran Fred Taylor, who had signed with the New England Patriots. Since that season, Jacksonville's starting running back has surpassed 1,300 yards every year, according to SB Nation.
The team that's been discussed the most is the New York Jets. Maurice Jones-Drew was already the most productive back in the league last season, but he could look even scarier to opposing defenses if he were combined with Tim Tebow in the wildcat offense or freeing up space for Mark Sanchez to throw the ball downfield with two minutes to go in a tight game.
According to the Bleacher Report, the Jets ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense last season and just one spot better in passing offense. A ground threat like Jones-Drew would almost certainly make some sports columnists that have dismissed the Jets because of the quarterback controversy think twice.
Yahoo Sports suggested Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum would be more than willing to give up multiple draft picks to acquire Jones-Drew.
Rant Sports speculated that the Denver Broncos would also be interested in MJD. There is apparently some concern out of the Mile-High City regarding Peyton Manning's health, and if there were an important game where his neck flared up, Jones-Drew could be the perfect player to hand the ball off to.
"It wouldn't be too far of a stretch to see John Elway make a move to get Jones-Drew," they wrote. "Manning needs a solid running game, and although they already have Willis McGahee, if the league's reining rush leader is up for grabs you have to at least see if it's plausible."
The Broncos had almost $12 million in cap space in June, enough room to acquire MJD although there's also speculation team executive John Elway would be in favor of offering the running back an incentive-based contract in part because of the lack of durability running backs have shown in recent years.