The Kansas City Chiefs have signed former New York Jets running back Thomas Jones to a two year deal.
Jones was released by the Jets last week after being due a $3 million roster bonus on top of a $2.8 million base salary this season. He and the Jets failed to reach a compromise on restructuring his contract; the team wanted him to take a pay cut.
Jones wasn’t the only running back on Kansas City’s radar. After spending Tuesday with the Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers free-agent running back Willie Parker was scheduled to visit the Chiefs on Thursday, but the trip was canceled when Jones entered the fold.
The 31-year-old is coming off a season in which he set career highs by rushing for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns while helping the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis. He was also a popular presence in the locker room, twice being voted the team’s most inspirational player by his teammates.
Jones had a career-high 331 carries in the regular season and appeared to wear down a bit down the stretch as rookie Shonn Greene got the majority of carries. Still, with the game on the line against San Diego and the Jets facing fourth-and-1 late, coach Rex Ryan put the ball in Jones’ hands to make a first down that clinched a trip to Indianapolis.
He’ll make $3 million the first year and $2 million the second in Kansas City. There are also $500,000 in incentives built into the deal.
Great pickup for the Chiefs. I wasn’t sure that he would be willing to take a back seat to Jamaal Charles, but whatever he and the team talked about over the past two days was enough to convince all parties that this was a marriage that could work.
It’s impossible to overlook the leadership qualities that he brings to the table. As impressive as being voted the most inspirational player is, the more important role was that of mentor to rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Jones owned the locker next to Sanchez and was there all year to guide the young signal caller through an up-and-down first year in the league.
I would love to see Scott Pioli go out and bring Jones’ lead blocker back to Kansas City: Tony Richardson. He has to have at least one quality season left in that body and every Chiefs fan knows how important T-Rich can be to a team on and off the field.
Welcome to Kansas City, it’s always good to have another Jones around.