The Dallas Cowboys could move on from a two-time Super Bowl champion before the start of the season.
As predicted by The Landry Hat’s Randy Gurzi as part of his 53-man roster prediction, running back Ronald Jones won’t be a part of the Cowboys’ regular season roster. Gurzi predicts that three running backs — Tony Pollard, Malik Davis and rookie Deuce Vaughn — will make the roster, leaving the veteran Jones left out.
Gurzi attributes Dallas being able to rely on Davis as a reason for why they don’t need Jones.
“Lastly, there’s Malik Davis who was undrafted out of Florida last year,” writes Gurzi. “He ran the ball 38 times for 161 yards and proved he can get it done if needed. He’s already good enough for them to move on from Ronald Jones as well.”
Why the Cowboys Signed Ronald Jones
Dallas is looking for a replacement for Ezekiel Elliott, who they released in March due to salary cap reasons. They quickly signed Jones as a potential replacement for the veteran running back, but they did so on just a one-year, $1.1 million deal. In other words, the Cowboys could release Jones with little financial penalty, considering they would absorb a dead cap hit of just $302,500.
Making matters even more problematic when it comes to Jones making the roster is the fact that he barely saw action last season. While he technically won his second Super Bowl ring as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs last season, he didn’t really play a role. Jones appeared in just six regular season games — one postseason appearance — and carried the ball just 17 times for 70 yards and one touchdown.
With that being said, when Jones has played, he is an effective runner. During the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl season back in 2020, Jones ran for 5.1 yards per carry on 192 carries for 978 yards. Despite his efficient season, he was replaced by Leonard Fournette as the starting running back entering the playoffs.
While Jones did prove to be effective as a backup to Fournette during the 2021 season, his 4.2 yards per carry were nowhere near close to his efficiency from the previous season. It also doesn’t help that former head coach Bruce Arians’ benching of Jones and his public criticism of the young running back may have affected his confidence. He has yet to regain the form that he displayed during the 2020 season.
Why the Cowboys Could Easily Release Ronald Jones
The makeup of his contract combined with the Cowboys’ depth may push Jones out the door if they choose not to keep four running backs on the 53-man roster. At the conclusion of preseason in 2022, Dallas kept three running backs on its roster, Pollard, Elliott and Rico Dowdle.
Pollard is guaranteed a spot on the roster. As far as Davis is concerned, the coaching staff thinks highly of him and he is coming off of a decent season in spot action, averaging 4.2 yards per carry on 161 rushing yards.
Whether or not Jones makes the roster likely comes down to if the Cowboys have confidence in the 5-foot-5, 179-pound Vaughn. While he proved to be a full-time starter at Kansas State — he ran for over 1,400 yards during the 2021 season — there are questions if he can be more than a scat back at the NFL level.
If the Cowboys have confidence Vaughn can be used regularly in the running game, that would likely push Jones out the door.