Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan had a clear and unequivocal message for running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is seeking a new contract.
He’s not getting one.
“There’s no decision here,’’ Khan told the Times-Union newspaper of Florida.
“It’s his choice. There’s been very little for us to do rather than wait on whatever he might choose to do.’’
That could result in a long holdout for Jones-Drew, who has two years left on a five-year, $31-million contract he signed in 2008.
Coach Mike Mularkey will not only be missing Jones-Drew at his first practice today, but also first-round draft choice Justin Blackmon, who has yet to come to terms on a deal because the Jaguars want protection in case he has another off-field incident.
Jones-Drew, the NFL’s leading rusher last season, can be fined $30,000 a day for his absence although Mularkey has declined to say if he will impose the fine.
Blackmon is the Jaguars’ last unsigned rookie after punter Bryan Anger, the team’s third-round pick, agreed to a four-year contract and signed the deal.
Jaguars general manager Gene Smith previously said the team wants Jones-Drew to honor the final two years of his contract and isn’t going to give him a new deal. Khan made it obvious that continues to be the team’s position.
“There’s more than 50 players under contract,” Khan said. “There are other people under contract in management, coaches. Does that mean if you do it for one, you do it for everybody. Where do you draw the line?’’
The danger of a long holdout is Jones-Drew wouldn’t know the team’s new system and might not be in football shape and could be liable to injury.
“My only concern is learning the system,’’ Mularkey said of Jones-Drew. “It would be difficult to come in and jump right in the huddle for anybody who isn’t here. I think veterans know what kind of shape [they have to be in]. Especially in this kind of heat. Football shape is different, especially if you don’t get some banging early.’’