What Are the Philadelphia Eagles Getting in RB Felix Jones?
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the signing early Tuesday morning. Jones agreed to a one-year deal, but monetary specifics were not immediately released.
Former Cowboys running back Felix Jones reached agreement on a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 14, 2013
Philadelphia will now hope it can help salvage the career of the oft-injured running back.
Drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys—ahead of the likes of Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Ray Rice—Jones has struggled to develop into the kind of franchise running back that others in his class obviously have.
Over five years, 64 games and 23 starts in Dallas, Jones rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns. He played in all 16 games in just two of the five seasons, as injuries have slowed the 215-pound back at nearly every turn.
Jones played out his full rookie contract, but was not re-signed by the Cowboys this offseason. Constant battles with injuries and the unmet expectations of being a top pick helped facilitate his departure.
However, Jones does bring an intriguing skill set to Philadelphia.
Despite averaging over 100 carries per season in Dallas (569 total carries), Jones produced a very good career average of 4.8 yards a carry. His lowest mark remains that of last season, when a number of injuries hampered Jones and he finished at just 3.6 YPC.
A constant big-play threat, Jones has 16 career carries of 20-plus yards and another six of 40-plus yards.
With their offense transitioning to a run-heavy look under Kelly, the Eagles likely figure that there will be carries available—even if Jones is nothing more than the third back on the depth chart.
For reference, consider that Oregon ran the football 685 times last season against just 373 attempted passes. Eight players were given 10 or more carries. The 2013-14 Eagles won't come close to replicating those totals, but they do serve to highlight how much Kelly wants to run the football in his high-volume offense.
Jones' potential worth extends well beyond just running the football, however.
An accomplished receiver and returner, Jones brings 127 career receptions and 64 career kickoff returns. He was electric at both, catching 14 passes of 20-plus yards and returning one kick for a score (a 98-yard return vs. the Eagles in 2008) while in Dallas.
His career high in catches (48) came in 2010, while he returned 30 kicks and produced two returns of over 40 yards the year prior. Needless to say, Jones is experienced doing both.
Such versatility should give Jones a realistic chance to stick behind LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown—the Eagles' most likely top backs—this coming season.
While at Oregon, Kelly coveted versatility, especially in his running backs. Think back to LaMichael James, De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner, three recent backs from Kelly's Oregon teams that were asked to run, catch and return in Eugene. Jones fits that mold.
Will Felix Jones win a roster spot with the Eagles in 2013?
That said, a 53-man roster spot won't be a given for a May free-agent signing.
Jones will enter an interesting battle at the bottom of the Eagles' running back depth chart, as Chris Polk (2012 undrafted free agent) and Miguel Maysonet (2013 undrafted free agent) each have productive college pasts. Polk suffered through injury in 2012 and was unable to play a down after winning a roster spot whereas Maysonet was widely considered a possible late-round gem despite going undrafted.
Matt Tucker, a fellow 2013 undrafted free agent from TCU, is also on the roster.
However, neither Polk, Maysonet nor Tucker would appear to present as much versatility as Jones—provided he's healthy. Kelly will be left to determine that this summer.
Jones most likely won't end up as your typical roster-body May signing.
Despite being tossed to the scrap heap by the Cowboys and lasting a full two months there, Jones arrives in Philadelphia with a chance to win a role. He'll need to remove his injury-prone label to do so, but his rare versatility will win him big points with the Eagles' new head coach.
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