When LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook were released, I think the reaction among Browns fans could be summed with one simple word: pass. When word came that the New York Jets were set to release RB Thomas Jones, the reaction was a tad different. Now there is more of a split crowd as to whether or not Jones, who resurrected his career under Eric Mangini, should be pursued by the Browns.
ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that the Browns are among one of four teams who might be showing interest in the veteran running back:
Best I can tell, there are four potential landing spots for former Jets RB Thomas Jones: Cleveland, Seattle, San Diego and Houston.
If we just discarded an aging Jamal Lewis, then why would the Browns be interested in a 32-year old running back?
Unlike Lewis, Jones hasn't seen a steep decline in his production, and he hasn't been hampered by nearly as many injuries. Here is a quick glance as Jones' production with the Jets over the past three years, not including receiving statistics:
2007: 1,119 yards rushing, 3.6 YPC, 1 touchdown.
2008: 1,312 yards rushing, 4.5 YPC, 13 touchdowns
2009: 1,402 yards rushing, 4.2 YPC, 14 touchdowns
Jones was used in conjunction with the development of two young running backs -- Leon Washington in 2008, and Shonn Greene in 2009. The reason I see the Browns having trouble signing Jones is that I think he has still has a recent resume to warrant a starting role on one of the teams in the league that needs a running back, particularly Seattle.
In an ideal scenario, I would like Jerome Harrison to receive a shot as the true No. 1 running back while we focus on other positions high in the draft. If Jones could sign on for one or two years as a heavily-used backup, I would certainly be in favor of the move. Jones will probably be the most attractive veteran free agent running back on the market though, so again, I have my doubts that the Browns would even be a contender in signing him as a backup.