The Dallas Cowboys could consider moving on from a former Super Bowl champion before the 2023 season starts.
As proposed by Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated, he lists running back Ronald Jones as one of 10 veterans who could be cut candidates following the NFL draft. Fisher argues that Jones’ contract does not buy him a roster spot and that he could merely be an insurance signing.
“Yes, he’s a ‘two-time Super Bowl champion.’ And he’s a McKinney guy. But let’s not get married to the idea of ‘RoJo’ as Tony Pollard’s backup just yet,” writes Fisher. “Dallas’ contract with him promises nothing (it’s a vet’s minimum deal) and we’re betting the Cowboys draft another running back. ‘RoJo’ might be about insurance and little more.”
Cowboys Could Easily Release Ronald Jones
The 25-year-old Jones signed a one-year deal worth a little more than $1.2 million. Not only is the deal merely a veteran’s minimum deal, it’s a contract that the Cowboys could quickly cut ties with. Jones’ dead cap figure is only worth a little more than $302,000.
Hurting Jones’ case for valuable playing time may be the fact that he just didn’t see much playing time last season. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting running back signed with the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason and he failed to earn an active role on the Super Bowl champions. Jones appeared in just six games and carried the ball 17 times for 70 yards. Furthermore, he appeared in just 38 offensive snaps all season long.
As mentioned before, the former second-round pick previously served as the Buccaneers’ starting running back, starting 13 of his 14 regular season appearances with Tampa Bay during their Super Bowl season back in 2020. However, he lost his starting job to Leonard Fournette before the start of the postseason and was never able to gain it back.
During the Buccaneers’ season opener back in 2021, Jones fumbled the ball on just his sixth offensive snap of the game. Following the fumble, Jones didn’t see another snap. Then-head coach Bruce Arians didn’t hold back in his assessment of the young running back following the game, explaining why he didn’t give Jones a second chance.
“He struggled mentally to get over it,” Arians said of Jones on Sep. 10, 2021.
How Ronald Jones Could Become Expendable
While Jones did bounce back to contribute in a solid backup role during the 2021 season — 428 rushing yards on 4.2 yards per carry with four touchdowns — he has yet to regain the form that made him an effective running back during the 2020 season. Prior to being replaced by Fournette, Jones ran for 978 yards on 5.1 yards per carry to go along with seven touchdowns.
It’s no secret the Cowboys are looking for a complementary back to Tony Pollard, especially considering he’s coming off of a broken fibula injury. While he’s expected to return in time for the start of the season, there’s no guarantee he’ll immediately regain the form that led to his first Pro Bowl season last year. Secondly, Dallas is seeking a viable option to replace Ezekiel Elliott, who actually led the Cowboys in carries last season.
If the Cowboys do end up selecting a running back in the 2023 NFL Draft — Dallas holds the 26th pick in the draft — the rookie back could end up making Jones expendable.
There is simply no guarantee that Jones will be on the 53-man roster, despite his experience and two Super Bowl rings.