Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Free Agents Analysis – RB Felix Jones – Unrestricted

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

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    What an absolute waste having him back there returning kicks. Wow! I did not remember him being that slow. Any fast guy would have done a better job as KR. Hell, even Heyward or Dwyer might have done better.

    I hope LaRod can come back fast as ever. I still remember that game 2 years ago that he got a start due to injury in Minnesota, who at the time had a good defense. I think he ripped them for 200 yards rushing and receiving. Damn good, for a spot starter.

    Let Felix walk, as there will be undrafted guys better than him.

  • steeltown

    As long as LSH is invited back to camp and is healthy, there is not reason to retain Felix’ services.. LSH can serve as the KR and #3 RB behind Bell and Dwyer (hopefully) and then draft a mid-late Rd RB or bring in another UDFA to compete with Alvestor Alexander

  • dgh57

    I was against trading for the guy in the first place and then having to endure watching him returning kicks even late in the season when there were better alternatives to go with like Sanders became almost unbearable to watch! Time to move on!

  • James Kling

    In fairness, we drafted a guy who would have been cut anyway (Adrian Robinson). Robinson bounced from the Eagles to the Broncos to the Chargers to the Redskins. Now, I liked Robinson’s potential (from my hometown, liked him at Temple), but it’s not like we gave up a draft pick or a blue chip prospect. We just swapped rights to guys who were getting cut anyway.

  • dgh57

    Well, what can I say but that I’m always looking to get the better end of any trade and always looking for production out of any player we might pick up.

  • James Kling

    Obviously. Just saying it was low risk, low reward.

  • David Edward

    Felix is also another of the irrelevant FAs. They can certainly do better at KR, and can probably find a nice speed back late in the draft. LSH is still a ? as a FA coming off injury. If he’s fully back to normal, then he’s a better vet alternative to Felix, but that still doesn’t mean he would be signed. A late-round pick would still be a younger, cheaper alternative than either LSH or Felix at the vet minimum. For that reason, I don’t see them making a move on either until after the draft.

  • Ken

    Couldn’t agree more. Every time he ran, I’m like I thought he was suppose to be fast?? you can usually get the best kick returner in college in the 6 or 7th round.