Kansas City has made its second major move in free agency, this time signing former Jets running back Thomas Jones to a 2 year contract for a reported $5 million. Jones’ signing comes on the heels of the team re-signing wide receiver Chris Chambers. The moves help solidify an offense that struggled during most of 2009.
Released by the Jets because of the emergence of Shonn Greene and because the team didn’t want to pay close to $6 million to a backup, Jones was one of the most sought after unrestricted free agent running backs.
The 31 year old player is coming off a career year in 2009, having amassed 1,402 yards rushing to go along with 14 touchdowns. During his three year stint in New York, Jones had 4,315 total yards and 31 touchdowns.
At an age where most running backs are wearing down significantly, Jones has been highly productive. Although he has topped 296 or more touches in each of the last six years, his highest number of touches during his first four years in the league was just 161. He is known for his heavy workout regime and that is a key factor in his success this late in his career.
In Kansas City, Jones figures to serve as the backup to Jamaal Charles, a dynamic young player who excelled in 2009 once given the chance to unseat Larry Johnson. The Chiefs obviously felt he was too young or, at 5’11”, 197 pounds, too small to carry the full load at the position, hence their signing of Jones, a more powerful back that Charles. The Chiefs also considered signing Willie Parker or Justin Fargas.
The player with the biggest impact from this signing isn’t Jones because he was clearly going to carve out a role as either a starter or quality backup with potential goal line duties wherever he signed.
Charles figures to lose out significantly from a fantasy perspective with Jones now his backup. With Jones likely to assume the goal line work and get significant carries spelling Charles, Charles’ role will be significantly reduced from what it was over the last half of the 2009 season.
Simply put, Charles is a quality receiver who will likely get all of the work on passing downs, but the lack of goal line work means he can no longer be considered a low end RB1 or high end RB2. At this point, he should be considered a low end RB2 with upside in 12 team leagues or a high quality RB3 in 10 team leagues.
As for Jones, he figures to rush for between 700-800 yards and score 6-8 touchdowns in 2010. That production means he slots in as a RB3 in all leagues and becomes a desirable handcuff for Charles owners.