New York Jets RB Thomas Jones Has Rare but Valid Gripe In Latest Contract Saga

Casey CallananContributor IMay 28, 2009

Entering his 10th season in the NFL, Thomas Jones has been an irreplaceable running back to every team he’s played for and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The man finds the end zone easier than Simon Cowell hurts feelings.

Jones has a tenacious and bruising run style, a knack for exploding through holes and at times can be harder to bring to the ground than nearly any of his contemporaries.

But he’s so underrated; his on the field supremacy has never given him enough respect when it comes to contracts. 

When the Bear’s decided to let Jones test free agency and keep Cedric Benson, it was right up there with drafting Penn State’s Michael Haynes over Troy Polamalu in 2003, as “the worst off season move in history.”

Benson was a bust from day one and could never compete with the established beast Jones was for Chicago in 2004 thru 2006. It was Jones that led the offense to Super Bowl XLI, not the under achieving head case Benson.

These days, the Bears can release a collective sigh of relief knowing they stumbled across a non-BCS running back/man-child named Matt Forte in 2008. Still, they let an entire season go to waste because they kept Benson over Jones.

Chicago’s rushing attack was so feeble in 2007; the Little Giants would have been able to hold them to under 100-yards on the ground.

Needless to say, Forte is the ultimate savior in all this and Benson (with his off the field issues leading to his dismissal from the team) is the goat.

I appreciate the running abilities of Jones and year after year I’m puzzled by the lack of money thrown Jones’ way in comparison to less proven tailbacks.

Since 2004, Jones has started at least 14 games and since 2005 he’s rushed for 1,000 yards in every season. Bottom line: his durable frame is going to move the ball down field and he'll find the end zone plus stay healthy. (Did I mention his outstanding hands?)

Often times I have as much love for a player who wines about his contract than original shares of Microsoft I own (nada). But in Jones’ situation his beef is warranted.

With the news coming out Wednesday that he has decided to rejoin voluntary workouts despite his contract dispute, I find myself in disagreement. 

Fresh off of his 1,300-yard season in 2008 for the Jets, Jones will be looking at a base salary of $900,000 for the upcoming year. Relative to other NFL salaries, that’s just not cutting it and New York needs to reward this longtime offensive powerhouse.

When a spoiled rookie who has done squat in the league sits out for nearly his entire team’s training camp, it is a disgrace to the NFL and the former players of this league (many of whom fought for free agency).

Benson nearly missed the entire summer in Bourbonnais in 2005 after he was convinced he was worth more money than Disney. That same summer Jones was in camp proving he was far and away the better running back than “Cedric the Diva”. 

Now, four years later it’s Jones’ turn to take a seat, but (unlike Benson) the ten-year veteran out of Virginia has a little more class than that.