Jacksonville Jaguars free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew has reportedly narrowed down his list of potential suitors to four teams, according to multiple sources. The New York Daily News lists the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers as the four teams who will send representatives to meet with Jones-Drew at the annual NFL Owners’ Meetings in Orlando this week. The 29-year-old running back met with the Steelers last week, but left Pittsburgh without a contract. He spent the first seven years of his NFL career with the Jaguars after a successful collegiate career with the UCLA Bruins, but is not expected to return to Jacksonville in 2014.
Where Jones-Drew will sign remains to be seen, although the Patriots remain a distinct possibility. With New England likely to let LeGarrette Blount sign elsewhere, the Patriots could use a compliment to Stevan Ridley in the backfield. Along with Brandon Bolden, New England could once again have a very versatile and effective running attack.
While MJD may still insist that he is an “every-down back,” the fact is there are fewer and fewer players in the NFL who fit this mold. Especially at this stage of his career, Jones-Drew must soon realize that any team who signs him will use him with at least one other running back in its rotation. The Steelers would pair him with last season’s rookie back Le’Veon Bell, the Jets would use Jones-Drew with Chris Ivory and the Dolphins would rotate MJD along with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.
At this point, the Jets have the most money to spend, although it was reported that the team’s “hard-line” stance already cost the team a chance to sign their No. 1 choice at running back earlier this offseason. While that target is unknown, it may mean that New York will not offer Jones-Drew a deal he feels is becoming of what he would bring to the team.
We also know that the only way that the Dolphins will land his services is to overpay him. That is the only way Miami can attract free agents at this point.
That leaves Pittsburgh and New England as the two most likely fits for Jones-Drew. Then again, this is the NFL, so anything remains possible.