Ex-Bucs Playmaker Expected to Sign With NFC Contender: Report

Ronald Jones II

Getty Former Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II could join the Cowboys.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II looks poised to join the Dallas Cowboys after a recent visit.

The Cowboys “liked the workout/visit” with Jones, according to DallasCowboys.com’s Patrik Walker. Though the Cowboys recently re-signed running back Rico Dowdle, Walker wrote “I expect there will be movement” when it comes to Jones, two.

Jones spent four seasons with the Bucs from 2018 to 2021 where he rushed for 2,174 yards and 18 touchdowns in 55 games. He also caught 76 passes for 571 yards and a touchdown.

His best season came in 2020 when he rushed for 978 yards and seven touchdowns on 192 carries. He also caught 28 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown that year.

Jones looked poised for a big playoff run in 2022, but a quad injury sidelined him for the Wild Card game, which gave way to Leonard Fournette, known as “Playoff Lenny”. Jones played sparingly in the Bucs’ Super Bowl run with 35 carries for 139 yards in three games.

Fournette beat out Jones for the starting running back job in 2021, and Jones had a quiet season with 428 yards and four touchdowns on 101 carries. Jones left in free agency for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022 where he played even less.

Jones only appeared in six games and rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries for the Chiefs. He also appeared in one playoff game amid the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run.

Kansas City paid him $1.5 million on a one-year deal, so the Cowboys could sign Jones at little cost. Jones had a four-year, $7 million rookie contract in Tampa Bay.

The Cowboys face a need at running back after the release of Ezekiel Elliott on March 15. A former NFL rushing leader, Elliott has yet to find another landing spot in free agency. Eliott managed 876 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2022 behind Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, who reeled off 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns.

Jones could give the Cowboys a solid running back, who averages 4.4 yards per carry, if he can regain the form he had in 2020 with the Bucs.

Jones Hasn’t Caught on in Passing Game Yet

Part of Jones’ tenure turning south in Tampa Bay stemmed from pass catching.

Former Bucs quarterback Tom Brady liked to utilize running backs in the passing game, and Fournette simply made strides ahead of Jones in that area. Fournette caught 69 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 while Jones only had 10 catches for 64 yards.

Jones struggled the season before in 2020 where he caught 66.7% of passes thrown to him. Fournette, meanwhile, has a career catch percentage of 80.4%, and he never dipped below 75% in his career.

Pass catching didn’t limit Jones’ reps at Kansas City where rookie Isiah Pacheco burst on the scene in Week 7 last year. The Chiefs also had solid seasons from Jerrick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, before he ended up on injured reserve.

In McKinnon’s case, his pass catching dwarfed anything Jones could do. McKinnon caught 56 passes for 512 yards and nine touchdowns in 2022.

Jones Holds One Significant Bucs Record

While Jones didn’t become a career-long No. 1 running back in Tampa Bay, he at least hit the record books in a big way.

Jones took off on a franchise record 98-yard touchdown run in 2020 against the Carolina Panthers.

“I saw the linebacker shift over, and then I’m thinking probably cut back to the left, and then it’s off to the races,” Jones said in 2020 via USA Today’s Bucs Wire. “[I] started looking at the jumbotron, and I’m like ‘Dang – buddy is moving back there.’ So, I changed the angle and keep striding cold turkey. [It] felt good to get that long run though.”

Jones hasn’t gone over 50 yards for a run any other time in his career.