ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - Free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew is coming back home to Oakland after signing a three-year contract with the Raiders on Friday.
Jones-Drew returns to his native Bay Area after spending his first eight seasons with Jacksonville and starring in college at UCLA.
Jones-Drew was hampered by injuries and poor play his final two seasons with the Jaguars. He had 8,071 yards rushing and 68 touchdowns for Jacksonville but was hampered by injuries the past two seasons. That led the Jaguars to let him test the market in free agency after his five-year, $31 million contract expired.
After more than two weeks on the open market, Jones-Drew finally found a new home in a familiar place. Jones-Drew was born in Oakland and starred at nearby De La Salle high school.
He has gotten hurt the past two seasons when playing the Raiders in Oakland. He missed the final 10 games in 2012 after injuring his left foot at the Coliseum. He strained a tendon in the same foot when playing the Raiders this past season.
After ranking second in the NFL with 4,321 yards rushing in a three-year span from 2009-11, Jones-Drew has been limited to 1,217 yards in 21 games the past two seasons. He averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry last season.
That has led critics to argue that Jones-Drew has lost a step at age 29 and is on the downside of his career. The Raiders are hoping good health will help Jones-Drew return to the elite form he had before the injuries.
The Raiders needed help at running back after allowing Jones-Drew's former backup in Jacksonville, Rashad Jennings, leave through free agency to sign with the New York Giants.
Oakland did bring back injury-prone starter Darren McFadden on a one-year deal but has no other proven tailbacks on the roster. The Raiders are hoping last year's sixth-round pick, Latavius Murray can contribute after spending his entire rookie year on injured reserve.
McFadden has missed 29 games over his six-year career with injuries and has averaged 3.3 yards per carry the past two seasons.
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