Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Pros and Cons of Trading Thomas Jones

With the additions of Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, it was assumed that the New York Jets would be able to run the ball better in 2008. But no one could have expected Thomas Jones to lead the AFC in rushing.

The former Bear ran for 1312 yards last year with a club record 13 rushing touchdowns. His 2008 campaign set a new career high in total yards and was a far cry from his mediocre 2007 output.

But I'm here to tell you that trading Thomas Jones could be a smart move in the offseason.

Will it happen? It's highly doubtful, but I'm a big proponent on buying low and selling high. Moving Jones now would be trading him at his peak value. He is coming off a great season, but at 30 years old, his prime years are likely behind him.

Check out Tristan Cockroft's breakdown on ESPN.com.

Statistical evidence points to 30 years old being the magic age of runningbacks in decline. It's why Fred Taylor and Deuce McAllister could have trouble finding jobs. It's why Shaun Alexander's career essentially ended just three years after breaking the NFL rushing touchdowns record. It's a big reason why Edgerrin James was completely phased out halfway through the season in Arizona.

The problem with those examples is it shows that other teams have caught on to this trend. Older runningbacks are having trouble finding jobs or contracts they feel they have earned. That could be trouble in terms of finding a market for Jones. After all, the Jets only traded down 26 spots in the second round to acquire him in the first place. They would be lucky to get that same value two years later, even after his big 2008 season.

The problem with trading Jones, as far as the Jets are concerned, is the lack of depth behind him. Leon Washington is a gamebreaker, and moving Jones would create more opportunities for the scatback, but there's nothing behind him. The only other halfback on the roster is Danny Woodhead, the 5'7" 195 pound NCAA Division II star who was on injured reserve last season.

Clearly, if the Jets were to trade Jones, two things would have to happen. First, they would need to find a replacement through the draft or free agency that could complement Leon Washington and fill in for him in case Washington broke down carrying the full load. They would also need to find decent value for Jones. The best case scenario would be a second or third round pick, probably the latter. Is that enough?

If you believe in the curse of 30, yes. If not, the Jets would be wise to stand pat and stick with their current combination, and give Washington some more carries to keep Jones fresh longer.


Josh said...

Your trading Thomas Jones argument has a very glaring gap. Jones didn't get many carries as a younger player so his wear and tear is relatively low. He will most likely go a few years after most because of the low number of carries at the start of his career.

Mackenzie Kraemer said...

I'm aware of that, but I was focused more on the age.

You are right about the relative lack of carries though. Strange for a guy who was a high pick, too, that he never really got an extended chance early of his career and didn't take off until later.

But still, Jones will be 31 by the middle of next season. If the decline is not coming next year, it's coming soon. At least with the limited number of carries, the Jets still have something to try to sell other teams worried about his age.