Bring Thomas Jones Back in 2010

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First a few updates:

1. I am having a somewhat difficult time pulling together a comprehensive list of the Jets UFAs and RFAs, I keep finding different lists on different sites. Going off the one from New York Jets Salary Cap (http://www.nyjetscap.com/index.html), I got - RFAs: Kellen Clemens, Braylon Edwards, Leon Washington, Brad Smith, Eric Smith, Drew Coleman, James Ihedigbo, Marques Murrell, David Clowney. UFAs:James Dearth, Wayne Hunter, Tony Richardson, Jay Feely, Marques Douglas, Howard Green, Larry Izzo, Ben Hartsock, Ryan Fowler.

2. Speaking of free agents, it was announced today the Jets will be tendering Brad Smith and Eric Smith, along with Kellen Clemens, Leon Washington, and Braylon Edwards. I am not sure about the futures of the rest of the Jets RFAs, but I would expect Ihedigbo and Clowney to be back. Murrell and Coleman are likely on their way out. In terms of UFAs, I don’t know if Dearth will be back since the Jets just brought in another long snapper. I am sure they will do what they can to bring Richardson, Douglas, Hunter and Feely back. I would love to see the Jets let Hartsock walk and try to upgrade the backup tight end position and I wouldn’t expect Green, Izzo, or Fowler back.

3. Gary Myers tweeted today that there is a zero chance the Jets will pursue Joey Porter after the Dolphins figure how to properly release him. I think Adalius Thomas is a more likely target for the Jets, after the Pats release him.

Bring Thomas Jones Back in 2010

On March 5th, the Jets will have to make a decision whether to pay a roster bonus to three veterans on their team: LitoSheppard, Kerry Rhodes, and Thomas Jones. Sheppard is due 10 million dollars, Rhodes is due 2 million dollars, and Jones is due 3 million dollars. I would say you have better chance of seeing David Barrett start at corner for the Jets next year than Sheppard seeing that bonus money. The Jets will likely explore the trade market for Rhodes but unless somebody blows them out of the water with an offer, I would expect him to be back and to receive his bonus. Most people are assuming the Jets will refuse to pay Jones his bonus, look to re-negotiate with him for less money, which he won’t be receptive to, ultimately leading to his release.

If the Jets can talk Jones into coming back for less money, good for Mike Tannenbaum but that will be a difficult task considering Jones is coming off a 1402 yard season with 14 touchdowns, which were both improvements from the previous year. The best course of action for the Jets this off-season is to pay Jones his money and bring him back for the 2010 season.

I saw the playoffs and I know it is clear that Shonn Greene should be the Jets lead back next year but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for Jones in the offense. During the Jets 7-2 finish to the season (including the playoffs), here is the number of times they ran the ball each game:

  • Week 12 vs. Carolina: 39 Attempts
  • Week 13 vs. Buffalo: 43 Attempts
  • Week 14 vs. Tampa: 41 Attempts
  • Week 15 vs. Atlanta: 33 Attempts
  • Week 16 vs. Indy: 44 Attempts
  • Week 17 vs. Cincy: 57 Attempts
  • Wild-Card vs. Cincy: 41 Attempts
  • Divisional Round vs. Chargers: 39 Attempts
  • AFC Championship Game: 29 Attempts

PhotobucketIn a normal game, the Jets are going to run the ball between 39-45 times. There are enough carries to go around for three backs, especially considering Leon Washington is coming off major knee surgery and will also get some of his touches through the passing game. Despite basically only playing half a season, Shonn Greene had injury issues in his rookie season. He missed nearly all of the pre-season and was inactive in week 1 with a rib injury. He was knocked out in the second half of the AFC Championship Game with a rib injury. He also had an ankle injury during training camp and was on the injury report late in the regular season with a shoulder injury. Greene looked like a future 1500 yard back in the playoffs but don’t forget he 3 lost fumbles during the regular season and struggled at times (8 carries for 18 yards against Miami, 7 carries for 26 yards against Jacksonville, 10 carries for 36 yards against Carolina, 8 carries for 30 yards against Atlanta). It is a big step going from being a #1 back for 2 and 1/2 games to being a #1 back for an entire season.

Jones did slow down at the end of the year, but he was dealing with a knee injury. Even if he can’t play at the level he did in 2009, he still is an excellent short-yardage and goal-line back. We haven’t seen Greene excel in those situations yet, especially since all his touchdown runs were big plays. Also, don’t forget Jones is a valuable leader in the locker room and is one of the most respected players on the team.

It would be an unnecessary risk to go into the year with just  Shonn Greene and Leon Washington at running back. They both have injury concerns and can’t be relied on to take all the carries if the other one gets hurt. Also, spare with me with the Danny Woodhead talk, because he didn’t show anything as a running back in the regular season last year. The Jets need Thomas Jones back in 2010.

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