One of the NFL's best runners wants a trade

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One of the NFL's best runners wants a trade

From Comcast SportsNet
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout appears far from over. His agent, Adisa Bakari, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Jacksonville Jaguars running back is upset with owner Shad Khan's recent public comments about his client's 27-day holdout. "Maurice wants to play for an organization that wants him and for an owner who respects him and values what he brings to a team -- on the field, in the locker room and in the community," Bakari said. ESPN reported that Jones-Drew is open to being traded. When asked Tuesday whether he would trade Jones-Drew, Khan said he is "not going to get into all the theses and hypotheses." Khan added that Jones-Drew is "a great player, and we would love for him to be back." Last week, however, Khan said MJD's absence "doesn't even move the needle" in terms of stress. Khan reiterated his stance Tuesday by saying, "This is not a team about one person." His message to Jones-Drew? "Train's leaving the station. Run, get on it," Khan said. Bakari made it clear that those statements don't sit well with Jacksonville's biggest star. "Obviously, he's not happy that what started as a very cordial and private conversation is now public and contentious," Bakari said. Now, with both sides seemingly digging their heels in as deeply as possibly, it is unclear when or if Jones-Drew will show up in Jacksonville. The Jaguars open the season Sept. 9 at Minnesota. Jones-Drew's holdout is fairly simple. He wants a new deal after leading the NFL with 1,606 yards rushing last season. He has two years remaining on a five-year, front-loaded contract worth 31 million. He is scheduled to make 4.45 million this season and 4.95 million in 2013. Khan and general manager Gene Smith insist they have no plans to negotiate a new deal with MJD, not wanting to set a precedent of paying players with two years remaining on lucrative deals that included large signing bonuses. Jones-Drew skipped the team's entire offseason workout program, including a mandatory, three-day minicamp last month. If new coach Mike Mularkey is fining Jones-Drew the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement -- 20,000 for each day of minicamp and 30,000 for each day since training camp opened -- the total is up to 870,000. Mularkey said Tuesday he has had no recent contact with Jones-Drew or his agent. Coming off a career year, Jones-Drew wants to be one of the NFL's highest-paid backs. His average salary per year ranks behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Tennessee's Chris Johnson, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, Houston's Arian Foster, St. Louis' Steven Jackson, Carolina's DeAngelo Williams and Seattle's Marshawn Lynch. Both sides have valid arguments. Jones-Drew signed his deal in 2009, before rushing for at least 1,300 yards in three consecutive seasons. Not only has he seemingly outperformed his contract, MJD is the face of the franchise and probably the only player on the roster known outside small-market Jacksonville. The Jaguars, meanwhile, paid him based on the expectation that he would flourish as a starter after spending the first three years of his career splitting carries with Fred Taylor. The team isn't enamored with paying a running back into his 30s, especially one who takes as many pounding hits as Jones-Drew does. Plus, the Jaguars have missed the playoffs in each of his three seasons as the starter. Jones-Drew is entering his seventh season. He has 6,854 yards rushing, 2,473 yards receiving and 74 total touchdowns. He carried a career-high 343 times last season, averaging 4.7 yards even though defenses knew he was the focal point of Jacksonville's offense.

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

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Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.