Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 5/15/12

So far this offseason, Jacksonville Jaguars star running back Maurice Jones-Drew has stayed away from Jacksonville during voluntary team activities. There's been widespread speculation that the reason for his absence is that Jones-Drew wants a new contract, but both the team and Jones-Drew have been mum on the matter.

That was until this afternoon when head coach Mike Mularkey confirmed to Tania Ganguli what we already assumed was the case, saying of Jones-Drew, "It's all voluntary. I wish he was here. He knows we wish he was here."

"It's all voluntary. I wish he was here. He knows we wish he was here." Mike Mularkey on @Jones_Drew32 #Jaguars

— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) May 15, 2012

Holdouts are nothing new to the NFL scene, especially among the elite players of the league. Some guys come back only when they're required to while others extend their holdouts until after the season starts. It remains unclear which category Jones-Drew will fall into, but the Jaguars are likely optimistic he'll be back before too long.

Jones-Drew has been a solid team player since entering the league as Fred Taylor's backup. He's reiterated time after time that he's willing to do whatever it takes for the Jaguars to win games. That stance doesn't sound like the stance of a guy that will refuse to participate in any team activity until he's given a new contract. That sounds like the stance of a guy that will do what he signed up to do, even if he's now unhappy with the current circumstances.

It's worth noting that Jones-Drew has missed voluntary workouts in the past, and those absences haven't resulted in negative effects for him in the fall. The Jaguars will have their first mandatory workout next month. At that point, the Jaguars will find out just how intent Jones-Drew is on getting a new deal done before the season starts, but my gut instinct is that he'll be there. Maurice Jones-Drew is the one and only recognizable face of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they need him on board to be successful. Of course, that also provides Jones-Drew with a little added leverage in any contract negotiations. Stay tuned on that front.

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This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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