The Maurice Jones-Drew era is officially over. The Jacksonville Jaguars have moved on from their veteran free agent running back, and appear to be headed in a completely different direction after agreeing to a three-year deal with former Minnesota Vikings tailback, Toby Gerhart. The deal is worth an expected $10.5 million, with $4.5 guaranteed.
That’s starter money and it appears Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley is trying to build his own version of the Seattle Seahawks. Gerhart surely is no Marshawn Lynch, but he does possess good size and power, while also having solid versatility and underrated speed.
Gerhart will likely begin the season as Jacksonville’s lead back after spending his first four NFL seasons as Adrian Peterson’s main backup, while the more explosive Jordan Todman will back him up and offer the Jaguars an athletic, change of pace option.
The soon to be 27-year old Gerhart has never topped 600 rushing yards or two touchdowns in any season, but has rushed for below 4.0 yards per carry just once, and capped his Vikings career with an impressive 7.9 yards per carry in 2013.
Many are skeptical that Gerhart is the answer for the Jaguars, and rightfully so. Gerhart has only a handful of starts in his career, and is otherwise fairly unproven. With that said, he was extremely productive coming out of Stanford, and has the necessary tools needed to be the lead back for the Jaguars.
Gerhart won’t be busting long touchdown runs, but he can pick up the blitz, is a reliable receiver out of the backfield and has a powerful, effective running style. It remains to be determined if he can be an every down back, but the Jaguars have invested in him as such.
*Photo Credit – Homer McFanboy via Flickr.