Matt Jones

Matt Jones Drawing NFL Interest

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen Matt Jones in the NFL, but he hasn’t given up hope of a return. He also has some reason to believe – the running back has chatted with multiple teams as the season draws near, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter).

As Garafolo points out, Jones’ odds could be helped by the growing list of players opting out of the 2020 season. Every team that loses a running back, in theory, is a potential landing spot for the former Colts and [Washington Football Team] rusher.

Jones played for the St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL, up until the league’s midseason cancellation. He was named to the all-league team at the halfway point, behind a decent 3.9 yards per carry average. Of course, it all came on a minimal sample size – 80 carries for 314 yards, plus a 25-yard touchdown catch.

Jones, 27, came into the league as a third round pick with Washington. For a time, he was their top rusher, and he showed promise in short bursts. Eventually, he slipped down the depth chart and he was jettisoned from the roster in 2017. He then moved on to the Colts, swaying between the practice squad and active roster. In his limited time with the Colts’ varsity squad, he averaged less than three yards per carry.

Jones’ last NFL deal came with the Eagles in 2018, but he did not make their final cut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

XFL Draft Day 1 Fallout

The XFL’s two-day draft began Tuesday. In addition to certain quarterbacks being assigned to teams, several notable players went off the board in the rebooting league’s selection event.

The league divided its draft into sections. Skill-position players (and other quarterbacks) went in one portion of the draft, with offensive linemen going second and then select defenders in another section. Connor Cook was the first quarterback to go in the non-allocation portion of the draft, being selected by the Houston franchise at No. 2 overall.

Here are some recent NFL skill-position players taken:

Here are the notable offensive linemen selected in that section of the draft:

Lastly, some front-seven names of note came off in that part of this event:

For a full team-by-team breakdown, Sporting News cataloged the first parts of this event.

QBs Mallett, Daniels To Work Out For XFL

Ryan Mallett and B.J. Daniels are eyeing another shot at professional football. The two former NFL quarterbacks (along with a long list of hopefuls) are participating at this weekend’s XFL Summer Showcase in Tampa Bay (full list via Emoy Hunt of The Athletic on Twitter).

The XFL Summer Showcase will take place in eight major cities through June and July. The invite-only workout is for players who recently completed their college eligibility, previously participated in the NFL, or played in an “alternate football league.” The event, which operates similarly to the combine, is intended for those seeking “potential XFL opportunities.”

Mallett, a 2011 third-round pick out of Arkansas, was once considered to be the heir apparent to Tom Brady in New England. That didn’t end up being the case, and the quarterback ultimately bounced between the Texans and Ravens. In 21 career NFL games, Mallett completed 55.1-percent of his passes for 1,835 yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. His last NFL appearance came in 2017 with Baltimore.

Following a standout career at South Florida, Daniels was selected by the 49ers in the seventh-round of the 2013 draft. The former signal-caller was a practice squad mainstay until 2017, although the Seahawks gave him a handful of appearances in 2015. That season, Daniels earned snaps at wideout, and assuming his NFL career has come to an end, he’ll have finished with as many career receptions as pass attempts.

Other notable participants include running back Matt Jones, who had 950 rushing yards with the Redskins between 2015 and 2016. Former Colts linebacker Antonio Morrison, former first-round safety Matt Elam, and former Buccaneers defensive end George Johnson will also be in attendance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Cut Down To 53

The Eagles’ receiving corps became a bit younger on Saturday. Two veterans brought in as possible depth pieces — Markus Wheaton and Kamar Aiken — were informed they will be released.

So was potential secondary cog De’Vante Bausby and rookie UDFA running back Josh Adams, given one of this year’s largest guarantees among the undrafted contingent. Philadelphia also placed safety Chris Maragos on its Reserve/PUP list, shelving him for at least six weeks.

Here are the players the Eagles will not be including on their initial 2018 53-man roster:

Released:

Waived:

Waived with an injury designation:

Placed on Reserve/NFI list:

Placed on Reserve/PUP list

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Beckham, Eagles

Derrius Guice‘s injury delivers a considerable setback to the Redskins‘ running back corps, to the point they may have to consider adding a veteran to the mix. But Jay Gruden did not confirm the team will go in this direction, pointing to the second-round Guice selection being a best-player-available move rather than a need pick.

We have guys here that can play,” Gruden said Saturday. “We drafted Derrius because he was the best player, we thought, at the time of the draft … not because we weren’t satisfied with the backs we have.”

The primary Redskins starters the past two years, Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine, remain on the team and are now set to be the team’s early-down backs. Passing-down specialist Chris Thompson, though he’s not yet fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered midway through last season, will reprise his role in 2018. Neither Kelley nor Perine surpassed 3.5 yards per carry last season, but Washington’s offensive line became significantly limited by injuries as the season progressed. Kelley fared much better in 2016.

Here’s the latest from the rest of the NFC East:

  • A day after Guice’s injury severity became known, the Redskins are concerned about 2017 sixth-round pick Robert Davis. The team fears its second-year wide receiver suffered a torn ACL, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Davis will head in for an MRI later today, per Garafolo. The Georgia State alum was expected to play a bigger role in Year 2 after playing in just one game as a rookie.
  • The Giants‘ reasoning behind sitting Odell Beckham Jr. in the preseason opener stemmed from his injury recovery, not his contract situation, per Pat Shurmur. “I want to be smart with his recovery coming back [from ankle surgery],” Shurmur said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “I never intended to play him in this game. I didn’t reveal that to [the public], but I never intended to.” Beckham has not experienced a known setback in his recovery from last season’s ankle injury. He encountered ankle trouble during the preseason against the Browns last year, spraining his left ankle barely a month prior to fracturing it.
  • The subject of Rasul Douglas moving to safety surfaced at Eagles practice, but the coaching staff shot that down, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Philly lost Patrick Robinson and has Ronald Darby going into a contract year, so it would make sense Douglas stays at corner. Philadelphia’s staff still believes Douglas can have a quality career as a corner, although Kapadia adds he has not progressed like the team was hoping going into his second season.
  • Donnel Pumphrey may be in his final days as an Eagle, with Kapadia pointing out the “lower body” injury he suffered in the defending Super Bowl champions’ preseason opener may put him too far behind the other combatants in a hotly contested race to make the 53-man roster as the No. 4 running back. Wendell Smallwood, Matt Jones and rookie UDFA Josh Adams comprise the rest of that race, and Kapadia adds that Jones may be behind the other two after the Eagles’ first preseason game. The Eagles gave Adams a sizable guarantee to sign after the draft.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Diggs, Rams, Joyner

Here’s a look at the NFC:

  • There’s a good chance that Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and wide receiver Stefon Diggs will hit the open market in 2019 if they don’t sign contract extensions, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) opines. Corry estimates that the linebacker and wide receiver franchise tags will be $16.325MM and $17MM, respectively, and that may be too pricey for Minnesota’s liking. On Wednesday, we evaluated Barr as an extension candidate.
  • Kirk Cousins‘ open-minded approach to the franchise tag should serve as inspiration to this year’s franchise tagged players, Albert Breer of The MMQB argues. That includes Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner, who is set to make $11.287MM this year and would call for a $13.544MM salary if tagged again next year. By standing pat, Joyner would receive either $11.287MM this year and a trip to free agency in March, or nearly $25MM across two seasons before hitting the open market in 2020. That could give Joyner the confidence he needs to stand his ground in extension talks, though this year’s disappointing free agent market for safeties could also steer him towards taking a deal.
  • Eagles running back Matt Jones knows that he needs to get it together if he wants to stick in the NFL. “It could be [my last chance],” Jones said (via Tom Moore of The Morning Call). “That don’t scare me at all. I got my eyes on the prize. I’m here and I’m ready to work.” Jones inked a two-year, $1.5MM deal with the Eagles this offseason, but the contract contains zero guarantees.

Extra Points: Rams, Manziel, Eagles, Colts

The majority of the 2018 NFL Draft class is now signed, but that’s not the case in Los Angeles. The Rams have yet to sign a single pick.

Should fans be concerned? To put it simply, no.

This isn’t new to the team, as Michael David Smith of PFT writes, as it likes to address financial planning with its players before giving them a large signing bonus. Like in years past, the Rams rookies will all generally sign at once sometime in the next few weeks.

“One of the things that we think is important with that is bringing the rookies in as a group, having them live together as a group, and not having any real differentiation between the first-round pick and the undrafted rookie,” Demoff said. “They’re in the hotel together. They’re eating meals together. They’re doing things together. And then [by the time] they all scatter, we’ll sign their contracts. They’ll leave knowing the contract’s done, so they don’t have to worry about that headache when they go on vacation.”

So no need to panic Rams fans. This is par for the course.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Eagles signed running back Matt Jones earlier in the week. The Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski has the details at two years for $1.5MM, none of which are guaranteed (Twitter link). He joins a crowded backfield that includes Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles.
  • The Colts have had visits from Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston and Bashaud Breeland in recent days. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star tweets, however, the meetings were merely informational and no signings are imminent.
  • And we’ll also make pitstop in the CFL, where Johnny Manziel is not guaranteed to start for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith writes. Smith quotes head coach June Jones, who praised current starter and former Oregon standout Jeremiah Masoli. “Let me tell you something right now, he’s got his work ahead of him to beat out Jeremiah,” Jones said of Manziel. “He’s got a lot to catch up on, but he’ll spend the time to get that done. I know he will because he’s already learned that lesson.” Though Masoli has the leg up, it won’t be long before Manziel is given the reins, given he can stay out of trouble.

Eagles To Sign RB Matt Jones

The Eagles will sign free agent running back Matt Jones, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Jones worked out alongside two other running backs on Tuesday and won the competition. The Eagles have confirmed the news while disclosing that it is a two-year deal.

Jones, a former third-round pick of the Redskins, was Washington’s lead rusher for a time and showed promise in short bursts. However, he slipped down the depth chart over time and was jettisoned from the roster last year. The 25-year-old moved between the Colts’ active roster and practice squad last year but averaged less than three yards per carry in his limited time with the varsity squad.

Jones will now fight to make the cut with the defending champs. The Eagles will head into the season with Jay Ajayi as their primary ball carrier while Corey ClementDarren SprolesWendell Smallwood, D.J. Pumphrey, and Jones vie for supporting roles.

Before signing Jones, the Eagles also auditioned former Ravens running back Terrance West.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Waive RB Matt Jones

The Colts announced that they have waived running back Matt Jones. Linebackers Darnell Sankey and Jermaine Grace, wide receiver Justice Liggins, nose tackle Joey Mbu, and defensive end Arthur Miley were also waived while defensive tackle Johnathan Calvin was waived-injured. 

Jones was once primed to be the Redskins’ primary running back, but he slipped down the team’s depth chart over time. The Redskins waived Jones after they were unable find a trade partner for him, leading him to the Colts. He cycled between the Colts’ active roster and practice squad throughout last year, but the team has decided against keeping him on the expanded roster now that the draft has concluded.

The Colts selected NC State’s Nyheim Hines in the fourth round and Mississippi’s Jordan Wilkins in the fifth round, so there was little hope for Jones to make the final cut. Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin project to be the Colts’ lead rushers while Christine Michael and Josh Ferguson will battle alongside the two rookies for a place on the roster.

Jones, a 6’2″, 239-pound athlete, has played in 25 career games with seven starts. All in all, he has averaged 3.9 yards per carry with six rushing touchdowns.

Sankey appeared in six games for the Colts last year and spent time on the team’s practice squad. He wrapped up the year on the Ravens’ taxi squad, but circled back to the Colts for a futures deal in January.

Colts Waive RB Matt Jones

Matt Jones is back on the waiver wire. The Colts parted ways with the third-year running back on Saturday, ending a two-plus-month stay on their 53-man roster.

Indianapolis cut Jones to make room for wide receiver K.J. Brent, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The Colts waived Jones in early September, only to bring him back via practice squad invitation. That could again be the move the franchise has planned, but the former Redskins starter is now unattached.

The Redskins cut Jones after the preseason concluded, and the Colts claimed him on waivers. He played in just three games this season and recorded five carries for 14 yards. The Colts have Frank Gore, Marlon Mack and Josh Ferguson as their active-roster running backs.

Jones averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2016, but the Redskins benched him primarily because of fumbling problems. He’s yet to re-emerge as a coveted ball-carrier.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.