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Inside the Jaguars: MJD, QBs want to return


JACKSONVILLE – Maurice Jones-Drew wants to remain in Jacksonville.

Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne do, too. And although it's unclear if they'll stay, their intentions were a major topic Monday a day after the Jaguars completed the 2013 regular season.

Jones-Drew, the Jaguars' three-time Pro Bowl running back who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the 2014 league year begins in March, said on Monday he would like to stay with the team for which he played his first eight NFL seasons.

He also said he knows that may not happen.

"I would love to see it through here, but … it's a monetary issue," Jones-Drew said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 30-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2013 regular-season finale in Indianapolis.

"That's where we are now. It's not about football anymore. That's part of this deal. It's part of the game. Hopefully, it will get done quick and I'll be here. That's the best.

Jones-Drew then quoted Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, saying Khan said it best when he said, "Hope for the best and plan for the worst.''

Jones-Drew also said he has no timeframe on getting a deal done.

"My agent and the organization have to go figure it out, and hopefully, we'll get it done," Jones-Drew said, adding, "You always want it done as quick as possible, but you want it done right."

Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, started three games – including the regular-season opener – but didn't play in the final 11 games. Speculation has been widespread that the Jaguars will trade or release Gabbert, but he said his plan is to prepare and report for the team's offseason program in April.

"I'll be back April 21 to start offseason workouts," Gabbert said.

Gabbert said he learned from being a backup for the final eight games, and Head Coach Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch have spoken highly of Gabbert's approach and improvement while backing up Henne.

Gabbert said he wants to return to the Jaguars, and because he has a year remaining on his contract, said he sees no reason he won't. Gabbert's four-year rookie contract was guaranteed, meaning the Jaguars pay Gabbert next season whether he is on the team or not.

"I'm still under contract," he said. "I want to be a part of this team. I don't want to be anywhere else. I plan on being back and competing for my job again."

He added, "This is a great team, a great atmosphere, a great staff here. I want to be a part of it. We'll see what this offseason entails, but I'll be back here in April and ready to compete and get after it again."

Gabbert also said it was not his intention to ask for a trade.

"That's a ridiculous question to ask," he said. "I'm still under contract here and I want to be a part of this organization, so why would I ask for a trade?"

Henne, who started the final nine games of the season with Gabbert healthy, is – like Jones-Drew – scheduled to become a free agent in March. He said there's "no doubt" the Jaguars will acquire a quarterback either through the draft or free agency.

He also said he would welcome the chance to return.

"For me, we'll see how things pan out and whether they want me back and the options for me," he said. "If I come back, I am definitely here to compete."

Henne added, "I really enjoy this culture here. I told Gus (Bradley) this morning, Jedd (Fisch), everybody, that I really appreciated it. … For me, I want to build on it. If I have the opportunity to come back and they want me back, it would be a good fit."

Also around the Jaguars Monday:

*Rookie offensive tackle Luke Joeckel said he will remain in Jacksonville all offseason rehabilitating the broken ankle that kept him out the final 11 games of the season. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, Joeckel started the first four games of the season at right tackle before moving to left tackle, where he played most of a quarter in a loss to St. Louis before being injured. Joeckel said he still hopes to be ready to participate fully in OTAs. "I feel like I'm a little ahead of schedule," said Joeckel, who said he walked without a walking boot Monday for the first time since the injury….

*Gabbert on his approach as backup this season: "I think adversity reveals your character. The one thing I tried not to do is I didn't change. I wanted to be the first guy here and the last guy to leave. My mindset never wavered one bit if I was the starter or the backup. That's the biggest thing that I came out of this year learning: "Everything didn't go my way this year, but I know I still busted my tail and gave my all."…

*Gabbert said he feels better physically than in any of his previous two offseasons, another reason he is looking forward to the future. He said if the Jaguars draft a quarterback in the first round, "It's part of the business. You welcome competition as part of the culture we build, and if he wants to come in here and compete for a job, we welcome him with open arms."…

*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III said he plans to be ready to participate when the Jaguars' offseason program begins April. He missed the last three games of the season with a groin injury and underwent surgery the week before the second-to-last regular season game….

*Jones-Drew said organized team activities in the offseason won't serve as a drop-dead date for his potential re-signing or signing with a team. "I never did OTAs anyway," he said….

*Gabbert said he wasn't surprised he didn't play Sunday despite the one-sided nature of the second half. "It was just one of those deals," he said. "We wanted to let Chad finish it out. He ended up playing pretty well."…

*Jones-Drew on his 2013 season, in which he returned from season-ending foot surgery in 2012 to rush for 803 yards and five touchdowns on 234 carries: "It was a very tough year. In some areas I could have done much better. This offseason will be critical to come back and get back in the shape I've been in to play at the level I've played at."…

*Outside Linebacker Russell Allen spoke to the media for the first time since sustaining a season-ending concussion against the Bills December 15. The fifth-year veteran never had missed a regular-season game in high school, college or in the NFL. "The last couple of weeks have been weird, especially Sunday not even being there," Allen said. "I always told myself and my wife that this was one thing I would take very seriously. It was a situation where I just wasn't going to play the final two weeks. They did what they had to do, which was put me on IR (injured reserve).''…

*Defensive end Jason Babin said Monday he wants to return next season. "I've told them I want to come back," Babin said. The 10-year veteran led the Jaguars with 7.5 sacks this season. He has an option in his contract that he can utilize to become a free agent, and said he is open to working with the Jaguars on a deal to return. "I think there could be a fair situation reached pretty amicably," Babin said.

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