By Matthew Marczi
Player: Felix Jones
Position: Running Back
Experience: 6 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2013 Salary Cap Hit: $587,500
2013 Season Breakdown: The 2013 season was one that was rather non-descript and uneventful for Felix Jones, the former first-round running back of the Dallas Cowboys. The Pittsburgh Steelers traded second-year undrafted free agent linebacker Adrian Robinson in order to acquire Jones during the preseason.
That in fact may have been his biggest impact on the team this past season. He was brought into the fold primarily—at least I believe—in a quest to seek a cheaper alternative at running back, as both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer were retained on tenders exceeding $1 million, and both were slated to serve as backups to the rookie Le’Veon Bell.
Jones was able to show that he still had some wiggle and speed if given enough real estate to maneuver during the preseason, which made the team feel comfortable enough to part with Dwyer initially, thereby saving more than half a million dollars in the process, though Dwyer’s absence lasted only a week.
That is because running back LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered a torn ACL in the season opener. That injury also reshaped Jones’ role on the team, as it thrust him into the spotlight as the primary kick returner.
In truth, Jones’ performance in this role was in fact rather unspectacular, as he averaged only 22.4 yards on 22 kick returns on the year, with a long of 42 yards. In comparison, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders averaged 24.4 yards on his 11 kick returns with a long of 46 and in general looked more threatening doing it, even coming close to breaking one against the Baltimore Ravens.
On offense, Jones was similarly unspectacular, as his 3.8 yards per carry attests. His season-long run, in fact, was but 14 yards, and he also fumbled once on less than 50 carries. He was somewhat more effective in the passing game, catching nine of 11 targets for 63 yards, with 46 yards coming after contact.
Free Agency Outlook: It doesn’t appear likely that there will be much of a market for Jones when free agency rolls along. After all, when the Cowboys willingly parted with him, the Philadelphia Eagles readily traded him for an unheralded outside linebacker already unlikely to make the team—which he didn’t.
The list of teams not seeking his service may well include the Steelers. While Jones didn’t necessarily do anything to merit the slight, the simple fact that his production could likely be easily replicated by a notably cheaper—and younger—alternative certainly makes him all but irrelevant.
Other Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Ryan Clark - Unrestricted Free Agent
Emmanuel Sanders - Unrestricted Free Agent
Brett Keisel - Unrestricted Free Agent
Jerricho Cotchery - Unrestricted Free Agent
Ziggy Hood - Unrestricted Free Agent
Jason Worilds - Unrestricted Free Agent
David Johnson - Unrestricted Free Agent
Jonathan Dwyer - Unrestricted Free Agent
Fernando Velasco - Unrestricted Free Agent
Cody Wallace - Unrestricted Free Agent
Will Allen - Unrestricted Free Agent
Stevenson Sylvester - Unrestricted Free Agent