IRVING, Texas – Cedric Benson and Peyton Hillis headlined the group of last season's available free agent running backs. Those names are around once again this offseason, but they're among the middle of the pack in this season's crop of free agent backs.
That doesn't translate well for Felix Jones.
The last season of Jones' rookie contract didn't start or end as he'd hoped, beginning with a failure of a team conditioning test and ending with his worst statistical year since his rookie season, in which he only played in six games.
Jones played in all 16 games in 2012, fighting through knee and shoulder problems to run for 402 yards on 111 carries and three touchdowns. His 3.6 yards per carry marked the first time in his NFL career he rushed for fewer than four yards per carry.
He replaced DeMarco Murray for six weeks when the starter injured his foot against Baltimore in a game that Jones finished with 92 rushing yards. During Murray's six-game absence, however, Jones only rushed for more than 50 yards one time.
The burst that made Jones attractive to NFL managers only came sparingly throughout the season, including once on a season-long run of 22 yards against the Ravens. He'd broken off a run of 34 yards or more at least one time in each of his previous four NFL seasons.
Jones might find it difficult to garner attention around the league this offseason with Benson, Hillis and a stable of free agent backs still available, including Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush, Michael Turner and Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Cowboys are in need of a backup running back, but at this point it doesn't seem like Jones will be the answer. Here's a list of a few available free agent running backs and how their 2012 numbers compare:
Felix Jones (DAL) –111 carries, 402 rush yds, 3 rush TD/ 25 rec, 262 rec yds, 2 rec TD
Steven Jackson (STL)– 257 carries, 1,042 rush yds, 4 rush TD/ 38 rec, 321 rec yds, 0 rec TD
Reggie Bush (MIA) – 227 carries, 986 rush yds, 6 rush TD/ 35 rec, 292 rec yds, 2 rec TD
Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – 221 carries, 1,015 rush yds, 6 rush TD/ 23 rec, 245 rec yds, 0 rec TD* *
Shonn Greene (NYJ) – 276 carries, 1,063 rush yds, 8 rush TD/ 19 rec, 151 rec yds, 0 rec TD
Michael Turner (ATL) – 222 carries, 800 rush yds, 10 rush TD/ 19 rec, 128 rec yds, 2 rec TD
Rashard Mendenhall (PIT- 6 gms) – 51 carries, 182 rush yds, 0 rush TD/ 9 rec, 62 rec yds, 1 rec TD
Peyton Hillis (KC – 13 gms) – 85 carries, 309 yds, 1 rush TD/ 10 rec, 62 rec yds, 0 rec TD
Cedric Benson (GB – 5 gms) – 71 carries, 248 rush yds, 1 rush TD/ 14 rec, 97 rec yds, 0 rec TD
Rashad Jennings (JAX – 10 gms) – 101 carries, 283 rush yds, 2 rush TD/ 19 rec, 130 rec yds, 0 rec TD