- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Running back Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to terms Wednesday on a four-year contract extension.

Jones-Drew, a second-round draft pick out of UCLA in 2006, was expected to sign the new deal before an afternoon news conference.

Financial details of the extension were not immediately available, but Jones-Drew said earlier this year that his agent planned to use Steven Jackson’s six-year, $49.3 million deal with St. Louis as a baseline for negotiations.

Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver made it clear in January that he believed Jones-Drew was capable of being an every-down back and wanted to do whatever he could to keep the 5-foot-7, 208-pound dynamo around for the foreseeable future.

“He is the kind of guy that you want to build your franchise around,” Weaver said. “He is an unselfish player that gives you 110 percent every play.”

Jones-Drew has 6,003 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons. He led the team with 824 yards rushing last year, ranked second with 62 receptions for 565 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. He is expected to do even more in 2009 since the Jaguars released Fred Taylor, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, in February.

Taylor and Jones-Drew were one of the top rushing tandems in the NFL in 2006 and 2007. They slipped considerably in ‘08, mostly because the offensive line was devastated with injuries, and the Jaguars struggled to a 5-11 finish.

The team also had chemistry issues that stemmed from huge free-agent contracts paid to receiver Jerry Porter and cornerback Drayton Florence, neither of whom started.

Weaver responded by cleaning house. He parted ways with longtime personnel director James “Shack” Harris and several assistant coaches and then released Porter, Florence, Taylor and defensive end Paul Spicer. He also released troubled receiver Matt Jones and chose not to re-sign several free agents, including linebacker Mike Peterson, left tackle Khalif Barnes and receiver Reggie Williams.

Weaver vowed to be more frugal in free agency this time around, but remained committed to signing Jones-Drew to a long-term deal.

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