Running back Matt Jones lost his starting job last year, and now he’s lost his roster spot. Washington released him during final roster cuts, making the 24-year-old a free agent in just his third season.
The release came after Washington reportedly made efforts to trade the running back, but got no bites.
Jones entered the 2016 season as the starter after a promising rookie year, but he got overtaken by Rob Kelley and fell further down the pecking order this year. Washington will move on with Kelley, Chris Thompson, and Samaje Perine on top of the depth chart.
How did Jones fall this far?
Jones was a third-round pick out of Florida in the 2015 NFL Draft. He spent most of his rookie season splitting time with Alfred Morris, taking 144 carries for 490 yards. Jones averaged a poor 3.4 yards per carry and ball security was a huge concern — he committed five fumbles and lost four. It was an uneven performance, but with Morris leaving in free agency, Jones was set up to take over as the new starter.
In 2016, Jones’ stats were slightly better efficiency-wise — 99 carries, 460 yards, 4.6 yards per attempt — but his fumbling problems persisted and head coach Jay Gruden eventually pulled the plug midway through. Rookie Rob Kelley became the new starter, with Chris Thompson established as a pass catcher.
Jones fell to the bottom of the depth chart and didn’t play again after Week 7. He was even further buried when Washington drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year.
What’s next for Jones?
Washington attempted to trade Jones before cutting him, looking for any kind of value they could. Jones barely played in the preseason, logging just 13 carries for 32 yards in four games.
Jones might still have some theoretical upside at 24 years old, but it’s striking how fast he fell out favor in Washington. Perhaps a fresh start is what Jones needs to jumpstart his career, and he should land with a new team soon enough, but he probably won’t be handed a starting job with the regular season just a week away.