Jones-Drew cleared for crossroad season

July, 23, 2013
7/23/13
3:43
PM ET
Maurice Jones-Drew is cleared to practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars, though the team will move him along slowly as he returns from December surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury to his left foot.

It’s an important year for Jones-Drew, who held out a year ago in an attempt to get a long-term deal that did not pan out.

He’s at a major crossroad now.

Even if he returns to form and is the team’s top offensive force, this seems likely to be his last year with the Jaguars.

He’s in the final year of a five-year, $31 million deal. He will be 29 in March, and while he split time with Fred Taylor early in his career and injuries have limited his wear and tear, running backs approaching 30 rarely get big-money contracts or long-term security in today’s NFL.

Justin Forsett and Denard Robinson are behind MJD in the Jaguars' backfield. They are unlikely to be lead backs or even part of a platoon backfield in 2014. This means that, after quarterback, running back could rank high on the team’s list of draft needs.

While Jones-Drew is medically cleared, it's important to note that we don't know if he's going to be the same talent on the repaired foot.

In other injury news from the Jaguars, defensive end Jason Babin (groin surgery) is also good to go. But Justin Blackmon (groin) and rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring) will start off on the physically unable to perform list.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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