The undersized running back who some said was too small had just cashed in big time.
He was all smiles as he signed a long-term extension that made him one of the highest paid running backs in the game. The contract was heavily front-loaded, meaning the cash would come pouring in early in the contract, then ease up in the later years of the deal.
No, were not talking about Ray Rice.
Were talking about Jacksonvilles Maurice Jones-Drew, and his tale could be a cautionary one for Rice and the Ravens.
The similarities between Jones-Drew and Rice are striking. Jones-Drew stands 5-foot-7 and weighs about 210 pounds. Rice is listed at 5-8, 212 pounds. Both were second-round picks, Jones-Drew out of UCLA, Rice out of Rutgers. Both have become the heart of their teams offense.
In April of 2009, Jones-Drew signed a four-year, 31 million extension with Jacksonville, making him, at that time, one of the three highest-paid running backs in the league. Jones-Drews contract was front-loaded to guarantee him about 21.8 million in the first three years of the deal.
Jones-Drew was all smiles then, but not so much now.
Jones-Drew, who led the league in rushing last season with 1,606 yards, suddenly looks around and sees Rice, Matt Forte, Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy all signing big-time contracts this offseason. Add that to the whopping deals signed by Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson in the past two seasons, and Jones-Drew is suddenly nowhere near the top paid running back.
Simply put, he wants more money. He thinks hes earned it. Jones-Drew skipped the Jaguars June minicamp and is threatening to hold out. He is due a salary of about 4.45 million this year, which is not nothing, but based on the other signings, appears to be well below market value.
The Jaguars say hold on a minute. We paid you a lot up front for your financial security. Now you have to hold up your end of the deal.
Obviously, he has expressed that he would like to renegotiate, Jaguars general manager Gene Smith told the Florida Times-Union in June. And we have expressed again that we feel he has a contract with two years left, that we expect him to fulfill those obligations.
Fast forward four years. Could this be the predicament the Ravens and Ray Rice find themselves in?
Like Jones-Drews, Rices deal is heavily front-loaded, with Rice getting about 25 million in the first two seasons. By the end of the deal, Rice is scheduled to make about 3 million in base salary. If his production then is even close to what it has been, he will appear to be badly underpaid.
Ricehe was all smiles yesterday as he put the signature on a five-year, 40 million deal that was very much deserved. And he has often said that he has never played football for the money. But by 2016, when hes in the final year of this deal, and his base salary is nowhere near the top of the running back list, well see if that still holds true.