- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ian Findlay from Miami writes: You stated that the current contract for MJD was a generous one when he signed it. You should let us know what the terms of that contract are. I am having trouble finding that info. It is information, if you have it, that should certainly be included in the MJD article.
Paul Kuharsky: Apologies.
It was a four-year extension that made it a five-year deal, worth $31 million with a $9 million signing bonus and $17 million guaranteed. He has base salaries of $4.45 million this season $4.95 million next year.
That’s a nice, front-loaded deal they gave him before he had worked as the lead back. They made a leap of faith with him, giving him that deal and cutting Fred Taylor.
Maurice Jones-Drew could have declined that deal and said, "Once I’m the lead guy, I will be worth more." He didn’t. He took a front-loaded deal. You sign a deal like that, you get security and guaranteed money sooner, but also accept some risk that if you’re really good it will fall below market in the later years.
I understand his frustrations. But he doesn’t have a lot of leverage here. It’s frequently been said and it’s true, they could probably win five games and miss the playoffs by a mile -- as they did last year while he led the league in rushing -- just as easily this season without him.
Andrew from Indianapolis writes: Will you stop using Arian Foster as an example of how teams don't need to draft running backs early? As an UFA Foster is the exception, not the rule. How many other UFA RBs have been Foster-quality backs? Foster is an outlier and is no way indicative of a trend suggesting teams relying on UFA RBs will be in great shape. Look at the other elite backs in the league- AP, Rice, McCoy, MJD, (arguably) CJ, all drafted in the first three rounds. Then look at all the UFA RBs that never work out. Every position has UFAs dominate but it's very rare, and RB is no exception.
Paul Kuharsky: I get your point. Mine is that you don’t have to take a guy in the first round.
Of the top 10 rushers in the league last season, four were first rounders, three were second rounders, one was a third-rounder and one was undrafted. So more than half of the league’s most productive backs were not first-rounders. You can argue teams have a better chance of finding a guy who can produce outside of the first round as you do in it.
And while I know injuries and playing time factor in -- undrafted Fred Jackson, undrafted LeGarrette Blount and seventh-rounder Ahmad Bradshaw were not all that different from first-rounder Rashard Mendenhall or first-rounder Donald Brown.
I stick with my overriding premise: You can find running backs later and should use your best draft slots on other, harder-to-fill positions.
Ron in San Antonio writes: What is your deal trashing the AFC South...maybe that's the way we love our division down here a little dirty a little gritty a little time consuming so what...the rest of the league is not any better. The game is as simple as you run it or you catch it either way somebody will win somebody will lose. The over analyzing of football or any other sport is beginning to suck and your leading the way my friend. Com'n Mr. Kuharsky you seem to be better than that so please let your writing reflect it sir.
Paul Kuharsky: Though I should be used to it by now, I just don’t understand why anything that’s not cartwheels and rainbows and sprinkles on ice cream amounts to “trashing,” “disrespecting” or “hating.”
I can offer reasoned critical analysis without it being any of those things.
The rest of the league is not any better than the AFC South? Except that over the last two seasons, the AFC South is one of three divisions to not get a team to at least the conference championship game. Except that they account for one Super Bowl win in the 10 seasons since realignment created the division. Except that Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees don't play in it and Peyton Manning no longer does.
Rick from Gulf Coast, Miss., writes: With camp opening based off the first preseason game, isn’t that unfair to the 2 teams who play the Monday night game, and give an advantage to the teams playing the Thursday night game? Two of the teams playing the first Monday night game in regular season, also play the first day of the preseason schedule, effectively giving them more practice days than the other teams. In reverse, the teams in the preseason Monday game play on Sunday week one, effectively shorting them a day compared to the rest of the teams.
Paul Kuharsky: If coaches and teams cared or thought they were being short-changed, they’d be complaining about it. They aren’t, so I have no concerns. And who’s to say extra practices are automatically good? Maybe they produce a more tired team or present extra days for a big injury. At least once I can remember, the Colts didn’t open the first day they were allowed, but a few days later.
Charliy Nash in Nashville writes: Okay Chief, you wanted some feedback: The biggest change I'd like to see is to sometimes (maybe monthly) schedule the chat at a different time - like on a Saturday. I'm sure I'm not the only one going "I'd love to participate, but I can't do that while I'm at work." Keep up the good work.
Paul Kuharsky: Thanks. I appreciate the suggestion. I don’t know if Saturdays are doable -- I think the bulk of the reader population likes to chat during work time, not free time. But I’ll consider. Hey readers, would you come to a Saturday chat?