The Denver Broncos may have had the top running game in 2011, but heading into the upcoming season that same running game is in danger of faltering.
Willis McGahee may have been a well above-average runner this past season, but he isn't getting any younger at 30. McGahee looked worn down heading into the playoffs, and when he sat it was tough for the other running backs to pick up the slack.
Former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno is recovering from a torn ACL, and is already considered a bust by many. Moreno is likely on thin ice with Denver's management after being given several shots at the starting job over his three year career.
Fellow backups Lance Ball and Jeremiah Johnson made an impact for Denver down the stretch in the Broncos' run-heavy offense, but both are fringe NFL talents. Johnson is not likely to stick around and Ball is a passing down back at best.
As an eight game starter in 2011, Jones managed 575 yards and a score on 127 carries. He also had 221 receiving yards on 33 receptions. Jones has served as a returner for Dallas since his rookie season as well.
Over the past four seasons Jones accumulated 2,326 yards at a 5.1 yards per carry clip in addition to managing 800 receiving yards on over 100 receptions.
Jones has had some injury concerns over his career however, having played a full season only once (in 2010, as a seven game starter). Over the past three seasons, Jones has played in all but six games, with 16 starts. And with over 100 carries per season for the past three years, Jones has managed to stay mostly healthy since an injury-ridden rookie campaign.
An excellent complement to McGahee's hard-hitting, between the tackles running style, Jones is a great open space runner. He could be the running back Denver wanted when Josh McDaniels drafted Moreno out of Georgia in 2009.
Jones is still young (turning 25 prior to the season) and has shown flashes of play-making ability. If he can remain healthy, Jones should make an impact in a lethal combination with McGahee.
Based on how much Dallas demands in return, Jones could prove to be a valuable acquisition for Denver. Dallas seemed to prefer rookie DeMarco Murray as the starter last season even when Jones performed. Additionally, Jones is headed into a contract year in which he is unlikely to re-sign following the 2012 season and Dallas may be looking to get value out of him before hitting free-agency.
If Denver takes a shot at Jones, he could make an impact for years to come in Denver's rejuvenated rushing attack.