Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Trails, Thomas Jones

Multiple sources are reporting that the Jets are letting go of RB Thomas Jones. The 31 year old runningback (32 opening day next season) broke his own franchise record for touchdowns with 14 this past season and was 3rd in the NFL in rushing with 1402 yards, but it is a cruel business he is in.

Jones was owed a $3 million dollar roster bonus soon, and on top of a $2.8 million dollar salary for next season, the Jets decided that was too much. Even with an uncapped year in 2010, the Jets have decided to move forward with a backfield presumably led by second year back Shonn Greene and Leon Washington. Greene all but took over the job late in the season into the playoffs. He was a big reason the Jets made the AFC Championship game, and his absence in the 2nd half all but killed the Jets' offense.

With the Jets virtually unable to sign unrestricted free agents without a new collective bargaining agreement, it's a mild surprise they would let go of Jones. There are some other big name runningbacks available like Brian Westbrook and LaDainian Tomlinson who the Jets could sign because they were released by their former teams and not simply free agents, but Jones was considered a leader in the locker room and Rex Ryan trusted him.

Greene and Washington sounds like a great tandem, a power back and a speed back, but Greene wasn't particularly durable last season and Washington is coming off a broken leg of his own, so counting on both of them to last all season is risky. Chauncey Washington is now the 3rd runningback on the depth chart. Perhaps the Jets think he could step in and handle part of the load in case of injury. Maybe even Danny Woodhead could be part of the answer.

This move could go either way for Mike Tannenbaum. It's hard to grade this move right now without knowing what he's planning to do to replace Jones. If the Jets go into next season with just Greene, Leon Washington, Chauncey Washington, and Woodhead, it would be a mistake, unless the lesser-known Washington is a hidden gem.

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