2:04pm: According to Schefter (via Twitter), Jones-Drew is “officially a Raider,” having signed a three-year contract with the team.
8:26am: The Raiders are in the process of finalizing a contract with free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew, according to multiple reports. Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com hears from two sources that the sides have agreed to terms and that the deal is just pending a physical. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the agreement isn’t quite official, but MJD and the Raiders are expected to agree on a three-year deal later today.
An agreement appeared to come together quickly after word broke yesterday that Jones-Drew would be visiting the Raiders today. A report earlier in the week suggested that the Steelers, Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots were all in the mix for the veteran back, but the Dolphins agreed to sign Knowshon Moreno, and a separate report indicated that the Pats haven’t been in contact with MJD. As such, it looks like the Steelers and Jets, who both met with the former Jaguar earlier this month, were the Raiders’ prime competition to land him.
By signing with the Raiders, Jones-Drew will be joining the team he rooted for growing up — the California native still lives in the area. Oakland also re-signed Darren McFadden earlier in the month, but McFadden has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and will be on a one-year, prove-it deal. With Jones-Drew in the fold, the Raiders are hoping to replace the 2013 production provided by Rashad Jennings, who signed with the Giants. Unproven backs like Latavius Murray and Kory Sheets could also be in the mix for carries in Oakland.
Following an excellent 2011 season, in which he averaged more than 100 rushing yards per game, Jones-Drew was slowed by injuries in 2012. He appeared in 15 games in 2013, but underachieved for a subpar Jacksonville team, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, a significant drop-off from his previous career low of 4.2. Having turned 29 last week and accumulated more than 1,800 carries in his NFL career, the former second-round pick’s best days are likely behind him, but a modest bounce-back season in 2014 definitely isn’t out of the question.
With Jones-Drew and Moreno off the market, LeGarrette Blount represents perhaps the most appealing free agent running back still available. According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter), Blount flew into Pittsburgh last night for a Friday visit with the Steelers. Blount is also drawing interest from his old team, the Pats.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.