Jones opened the season as the starter, rushing for 460 yards in the first seven games. But he was sidelined by a knee injury, then lost his starting job to undrafted rookie free agent Rob Kelley. Jones was inactive for the final nine games, in part because he was not part of special teams.
During the offseason, coach Jay Gruden has said they had not “written off” Jones, but it has been communicated to the back that he’s not in the team’s plans. Gruden also has praised Kelley quite often, making it clear he expected the second-year back to improve and, therefore, further distance himself from Jones.
The Redskins then drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, giving them something they had hoped Jones would become: a big, powerful back. Jones and Perine both weigh around 230 pounds, but the latter is known more for his strength.
Perine will compete with Kelley for the starting job. The Redskins also have third-down back Chris Thompson. Barring injuries, those are the three backs Washington would keep on the 53-man roster. If the Redskins needed a fourth, as of now it would be Mack Brown because of his ability to play special teams.
It’s uncertain how long the Redskins will keep Jones on the roster. If one or two of their backs get hurt, Jones would give them an experienced backup who counts only $788,854 against the salary cap. His name has been mentioned in trade rumors, but with teams knowing where Jones fits on the Redskins’ roster, they know eventually he’ll be released.
Last week, after the NFL Network reported Jones planned to stay away from the voluntary sessions, Gruden said of his absence, “This is a voluntary deal, as we all know, and I can’t force the issue on anybody. So if he’s disgruntled in any way, shape or form, it’s news to me.”
When asked if he expected Jones to appear at the mandatory minicamp next month Gruden said, “He better.”