When DeMarco Murray was drafted in the third round, the writing was on the wall for former Cowboy Marion Barber. Who would’ve thought that Murray could also mark the end for Felix Jones’s days as a Dallas Cowboy as well?
Jones was named the starter at the beginning of the 2011 season. He has started five games and has run for 273 yards and scored one rushing touchdown.
Meanwhile, Murray has started six games and has run for 832 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
One would have thought that after Murray touched the ball 31 times on Sunday against the Washington Redskins that Jones would get more of the workload on Thanksgiving after Murray’s short four-day rest. That wasn’t the case, though. Instead, Jones didn’t get a single carry, and only caught one pass for four yards while Murray ran the ball 22 times for 87 yards.
Obviously the Cowboys don’t plan on using a halfback by committee now that Murray has emerged as the starter, but what does that mean for Jones’s future as a Cowboy?
His contract runs through the 2012 season before he becomes a free agent. Jones has primarily been a backup ever since his days at Arkansas when he spelled Darren McFadden. He has been useful for the Cowboys in recent years due to injuries problems in the backfield. But unless he’s OK with being a backup, he may not be in Big D for too long.
Jones has only had three 100-yard games in his NFL career and doesn’t look like he’ll have another one this season now that Murray has taken the lion's share of the workload. The Cowboys respect his versatility, as he was used on kickoff returns this past Thursday. But if Jones is looking for a big payday, the Cowboys are more likely to trade him next season rather than let him play out his contract.
There will always be an argument to keep Jones, though. In a league where backs get hurt often, it’s always a good idea to have a good backup in case your starter goes down. Jones is capable of that, but we can only guess how much money he’ll request from the Cowboys.
Add to that the fact that Jerry Jones is gun-shy from handing out big contracts (thanks a lot Marion Barber), and its unlikely No. 28 will be a Cowboy unless he accepts his backup role.