It’s late in the off-season, but there seems to be some late interest as well in Felix Jones, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys. After visiting with the Philadelphia Eagles, the next stop for the mostly disappointing running back is with the New England Patriots, who might be more interested in his receiving abilities than what he can do on the ground.
Jones is coming off his fifth season in the NFL, proving once again that unless he’s part of a core of running backs getting to share the load with others, he’s not going to be of much use. He averaged only 6.9 carries per game last season, finishing with 402 yards, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Injuries hurt his production, but he did play in all 16 games for the disappointing (as well) Cowboys.
But healthy, Jones might be of use to any team, as long as no one is thinking of using him as their feature back. With most teams these days trying to go more and more towards the dual or even triple running back options, avoiding putting all the pressure and focus on just one back unless he’s a really talented one.
The Patriots have quite a deep stock of backs at the moment – Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington, although none of them are the type you can count on to pick up 100 yards each game. Bolden seems to be on the fringe of being released, and Leon Washington is going to be mainly used as a return man anyway. Ridley did run for nearly 1300 yards last season, but you never know how much use he’ll get in the pass first and second scheme of the Patriots.
Vereen is the kind of running back the Patriots are hoping to find in Jones, who averaged 10.2 yards per receptions last season and caught 48 passes during 2010, his best season with the Cowboys so far. Bill Belichick loves being creative with the positioning on the field, and if Jones is indeed someone they’re interested in and not just a player they’re getting to know in case they need him later in the season, he might share the role of running back – receiver along with Vereen in 2013.