Ronald Jones

Chiefs Place Clyde Edwards-Helaire On IR, Activate T Lucas Niang From PUP List

Clyde Edwards-Helaire‘s third NFL season has skidded off track. In addition to losing his starting job recently, the former first-round pick suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday night.

The Chiefs will move forward without Edwards-Helaire in the near future, having placed him on IR. This will shut down CEH for at least four weeks. Kansas City had already changed the LSU alum’s role, though this certainly does impact the AFC West kingpins’ depth.

Coming into this season, Edwards-Helaire — thanks partially to Damien Williams‘ 2020 opt-out — had started every NFL game in which he played. But injuries led to the college dual threat missing 10 regular-season games and two playoff tilts. Edwards-Helaire then took a backseat to Jerick McKinnon upon returning from his second 2021 injury — a shoulder issue — in the postseason. CEH had already sustained an MCL sprain earlier in 2021; he missed time due to ankle and hip maladies in 2020.

McKinnon re-signed midway through this offseason, but the Chiefs have begun using seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco over both vets. Pacheco has totaled 31 carries over the Chiefs’ past two games. Edwards-Helaire was on the field for four offensive snaps during the Chiefs’ Week 10 win over the Jaguars, and his injury against the Chargers stands to set him back further.

The 5-foot-8 back has gained 302 rushing yards on 71 carries this season. While extended absences are not new for the former No. 32 overall pick, Pacheco’s presence has changed the Chiefs’ backfield equation. This injury also opens the door for Ronald Jones resurfacing. The offseason addition has not dressed for a game yet as a Chief but remains on their 53-man roster. Andy Reid said (via ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher) the former Buccaneers starter has a chance to play, though he cited multiple issues that may deter Jones from seeing a backfield role.

With CEH out and McKinnon having two full-season injury absences on his resume, the Chiefs suddenly may need Jones, whom they signed to a one-year, $1.5MM deal.

Additionally, the Chiefs activated Lucas Niang from the reserve/PUP list. The team’s right tackle to open last season, Niang suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in Week 17 of last season. The former third-round pick has not been available much during his KC career. He opted out of the 2020 season and has now missed 15 regular-season games since. The Chiefs have used veteran Andrew Wylie primarily at right tackle this year. Niang, who made nine starts as a rookie, could potentially make a late-season push for playing time on the Chiefs’ otherwise-solidified front.

Chiefs RB Ronald Jones Wants To Be Released?

It sounds like Chiefs running back Ronald Jones wants out of Kansas City. The veteran took to Twitter last night and wrote that he “sure would like a RELEASE right about now.”

This isn’t an overly shocking development considering Jones’ lack of playing time. After spending the first four seasons of his career in Tampa Bay, Jones joined the Chiefs this offseason and was expected to pair with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the backfield. The RB acquisition inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with $500K guaranteed, and there was up to $3.5MM worth of incentives on the deal.

However, after joining the organization, the Chiefs added running back Isiah Pacheco in the seventh round and re-signed veteran Jerick McKinnon. Andy Reid and the Chiefs coaching staff have been rolling with CEH, Pacheco, and McKinnon through the first chunk of the season, with Jones being inactive for each of the team’s seven games. With no opportunities at playing time on the horizon, it sounds like Jones would like a fresh start elsewhere.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Jones can still be a contributor. He struggled to hold on to the starting gig during his time in Tampa Bay, and the one-year contract he got from Kansas City is probably indicative of his market (although he may have taken a discount to join a contender). The last time we saw the 25-year-old, he got into 16 games (three starts) for the Buccaneers in 2021, finishing with 492 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. Jones had two-straight 1,000-yard seasons between 2019 and 2020.

Release Candidate: Chiefs RB Ronald Jones

Ronald Jones joined the Chiefs this offseason, but he may not even make it to the regular season with his new squad. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, the veteran RB “may find himself on the outside looking in” once the Chiefs reduce their roster to 53 players.

When Jones first joined the Chiefs, he was considered a potential starter or (at the very least) a high-level backup for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Reports out of Kansas City don’t seem to indicate that Jones has necessarily done anything to lose his job. Rather, it’s been the performance of Kansas City’s other RBs that has put Jones’ gig in jeopardy.

While Edwards-Helaire has consistently been the No. 1 running back during training camp, the Chiefs have given extended looks at Jones, veteran Jerick McKinnon, and seventh-round rookie Isaih Pacheco as the No. 2 RB. As Jones writes, Pacheco has “already turned heads,” while McKinnon has the luxury of having already spent a year in Kansas City’s system. The Chiefs could realistically keep all four of those aforementioned running backs, but considering Jones’ lack of versatility, the organization may prefer to keep a less experienced option (like Derrick Gore or UDFA Tayon Fleet-Davis) instead of a veteran who probably won’t leave the bench.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was recently complimentary of Jones’ energy, but he seemed to hint that the player’s lack of pass-catching and/or blocking prowess is still a work in progress.

“RoJo is doing a heck of a job,” Bieniemy said (h/t to Charles Goldman of ChiefsWire). “He’s obviously a big man, he’s done some good things running the football.

“He just needs to continue becoming the football player we expect him to be because we expect our guys to do a lot from that running back position. The thing that he’s done is he’s accepted the challenge and he’s doing things he really hasn’t done in the past.”

Jones found himself in and out of the lineup during his four years in Tampa Bay. He had his best season in 2020, finishing with 978 rushing yards and seven touchdowns before collecting another 139 rushing yards in the postseason. He spent the majority of the 2021 campaign behind Leonard Fournette on the depth chart, and after topping 1,000 yards from scrimmage in both 2019 and 2020, he finished last year with only 492 total yards.

The 25-year-old has averaged a respectable 4.5 yards per carry throughout his career, but he’s never been able to establish a role in the passing game. In four season, Jones has hauled in 76 receptions. For comparison’s sake, McKinnon has twice as many career receptions despite playing only two more seasons than his teammate. It goes beyond the counting stats; while Jones didn’t have enough snaps to qualify for Pro Football Focus’ grades, he would have ranked in the bottom-fourth among RBs in pass-catching ability. Jones also earned ugly grades in his blocking prowess, including a pass-blocking score that would have ranked as the second-worst among all RBs.

The Chiefs inked Jones to a one-year, $1.5MM contract this past offseason. The team could recoup about half of that cap hit by releasing the veteran. That $750K savings isn’t significant enough to make a major impact on the cap sheet, and that’s why if the Chiefs do ultimately move on from Jones, the move probably won’t be attributed to money.

Of course, this isn’t to say that Jones doesn’t have a place in the NFL. However, he doesn’t seem to have a clear role in Kansas City, and that fact could ultimately earn him his walking papers by the end of the preseason.

Contract Details: Howard, Trubisky, Key, Jones

Here are some details on deals recently reached around the NFL:

  • Xavien Howard, CB (Dolphins): Five-year, $90MM. The contract, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, has a guaranteed amount of $36.3MM consisting of a $17.12MM signing bonus and the next two seasons of base salary worth just $1.04MM in 2022 and jumping to $18.15MM in 2023. On the third league day of the 2024 season, $4MM of the 2024 base salary (worth $15.4MM) becomes guaranteed. Howard will receive roster bonuses of $3MM on the second league day of each of the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons. He also will receive an additional $1MM for each Pro Bowl and 1st-Team All-Pro selection and $100,000 per year as a workout bonus. Howard had three years remaining on his deal before signing his extension. It’s extremely rare for a team to draw up a new deal with that much time remaining, but Miami’s willingness to keep Howard happy is a testament to how important he is to the franchise.
  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Two-year, $14.29MM. The contract, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, has a signing bonus of $5.25MM set to apply evenly over both years of the deal. Trubisky’s base salary in 2022 is only $1.04MM and jumps up to $8MM in 2023. The deal holds a potential $8.5MM in incentives. $4MM of play-time incentives each year should be easily reached if Trubisky wins the starting job and stays healthy. The remaining $500,000 would be earned in $250,000 increments if Trubisky makes the Pro Bowl in either year.
  • Arden Key, DE (Jaguars): One-year, $4MM. The contract, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, has a guaranteed amount of $3MM consisting of the signing bonus and base salary, each worth $1.5MM. The remaining $1MM comes in the form of a $500,000 roster bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus. Key will receive a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000. Wilson also reports that Key can earn up to $3MM of additional money in sack and Pro Bowl incentives.
  • Ronald Jones, RB (Chiefs): One-year, $1.5MM. The contract, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic, consists of a $250,000 signing bonus and a $1.25MM base salary. The deal was originally reported as “up to $5MM”, but Auman clarifies that any money past the listed $1.5MM would consist of incentives.

Chiefs Sign RB Ronald Jones

The Chiefs are bringing in a veteran running back. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), Kansas City is signing RB Ronald Jones to a one-year deal. The running back can earn up to $5MM on his one-year pact (per Pelissero on Twitter).

[RELATED: Chiefs Host WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, RB Ronald Jones]

Jones met with the Chiefs earlier this week alongside wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling. MVS ended up inking a three-year, $30MM pact with the Chiefs.

Jones was a 2018 second-round pick by the Buccaneers. He saw an inconsistent role during his first four seasons in the NFL; he had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage in both 2019 and 2020, but he was limited to only 492 yards from scrimmage in 2021 while playing second fiddle to Leonard Fournette. Jones does have some pass-catching ability (76 career receptions) and he’s averaged a modest 4.5 yards on his rushing attempts, so there’s a good chance he’ll be a usable piece in the Chiefs offense.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire should return to the top of the depth chart in 2022, but backups Jerick McKinnon and Darrel Williams are both free agents. That means Jones will likely compete for backup reps with Derrick Gore.

Tom Brady Coming Out Of Retirement, Will Rejoin Bucs

It looks like the Buccaneers’ quarterback questions have been answered for now. Get comfortable, Kyle Trask, you’ve got a bit longer to wait. After 40 days of retirement, Tom Brady has announced he will return for his 23rd season of NFL football in a tweet this evening. He announced he has unfinished business in Tampa after the team lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year to the eventual-Super Bowl Champion Rams. 

Rumors of a Brady unretirement had persisted since his February 1st announcement. Brady even hinted at the possibility of a Favre-like return, coming back just in time for training camp. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, made it very clear that they had no intention of allowing Brady to play elsewhere for the 2022 NFL Season. It turns out, they have nothing to worry about for now. Brady cited his love for his teammates in his unretirement announcement.

Some details will need to be hashed out as Brady still had four years on his contract, with all years after 2022 being voided upon his retirement. Past that, Tampa Bay has several offensive pieces set to become unrestricted free agents including center Ryan Jensen, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, and running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, and Giovani Bernard. If they are going to attempt another glory run, these loose ends will need to be tied up.

In response to the news, no one is more happy to see the quarterback return than Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey who was set to spend eternity as the last person to have Tom Brady throw a touchdown on them. On the other hand, no one is less happy to see the quarterback return than the unfortunate big-spender who just dropped $518,000 at an auction in a bid to receive Tom Brady’s final touchdown ball. Looks like there will be many other balls getting thrown past many other defensive backs before Brady retires again.

Buccaneers Activate Leonard Fournette From IR, Waive Le’Veon Bell

After the Buccaneers played without their top two running backs in their wild-card game, they are set to have one of them back against the Rams.

Leonard Fournette is coming off IR and will play Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Tampa Bay’s starting back has been out since suffering a hamstring injury in Week 15. The Bucs designated Fournette for return last week but kept him on IR ahead of their Eagles matchup, moving forward with Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard.

This week, Fournette should play a major role. While it is not certain if the former top-five pick will be up for his pre-injury workload, the Bucs having their leading rusher back will certainly help their cause. The team’s running game might encounter tougher-than-usual sledding, given some key offensive line injuries.

Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs did get in limited practices this week, but The Athletic’s Jeff Howe tweets the latter is dealing with a high ankle sprain. This troublesome ailment could keep Wirfs out, and even if the All-Pro right tackle plays, he figures to be far less than 100%. Wirfs has yet to miss a game in two seasons.

The Bucs will also be without Fournette backup Ronald Jones, but their primary 2020 back has not been much of a factor this season. After gaining only 367 rushing yards in 2020, which featured time as a healthy scratch, Fournette totaled 1,266 scrimmage yards and matched his career-high with 10 touchdowns despite the hamstring injury ending his regular season early. Fournette returning to his “Playoff Lenny” form would stand to cement his value ahead of free agency, which should feature a better market for the ex-Jaguar this time around.

To make room for Fournette, the Bucs are waiving Le’Veon Bell, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. This marks the second time this season a team has waived the former All-Pro. The Ravens cut bait during the regular season. Bell, however, makes sense as practice squad insurance for the Bucs. Bell’s route back to Tampa Bay’s taxi squad would be fairly smooth, given his one-year contract and any team claiming Bell being unable to use him in the playoffs.

Buccaneers To Activate Lavonte David, Giovani Bernard; Leonard Fournette To Remain On IR

Part of the Buccaneers’ injured contingent will be back in uniform for the defending champions Sunday. Lavonte David and Giovani Bernard are set to come off IR on Saturday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets.

David suffered a foot injury in Week 15, joining Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin in going down during a shutout loss to the Saints. Godwin is done for the season, and Laine adds Fournette will not be activated ahead of Saturday’s roster-setting deadline. Fournette is battling a hamstring injury.

While Bernard has not played a key role this season, he will be in line to do so against the Eagles. Not only is Fournette out, but the Bucs also declared Ronald Jones out because of an ankle injury. Tampa Bay has Bernard, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell as its healthy backs.

Fournette carried the load for the Bucs for most of this season, reducing Jones and the others to bit parts. The former Jaguars top-five pick totaled a Bucs-most 1,266 scrimmage yards in 14 games. Fournette can still be activated ahead of a divisional-round game or the NFC championship, provided this Bucs iteration’s season extends that far.

One of the NFL’s top off-ball linebackers over the past 10 seasons, David was instrumental to the Bucs claiming their second Super Bowl title last season. He totaled 97 tackles and two forced fumbles this season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 linebacker. David will be tasked with leading a charge against an Eagles team that leads the NFL in rushing.

Bruce Arians said Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are also on track to return against Philadelphia. While Barrett was a full practice participant Friday, JPP did not suit up for even a limited session due to his shoulder and knee injuries. JPP is not on IR, however, and has not been declared out.

Latest On Buccaneers’ Injury Situation

The Buccaneers will be finishing the regular season with a number of key pieces missing. According to an injury update from ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Tampa Bay will be without their top two pass rushers, top two running backs and, in all likelihood, an experienced piece of the secondary. 

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett tested positive for COVID-19, which added another reason for him to miss Sunday’s game against Carolina. He is still recovering from a sprained MCL and ACL suffered during the team’s Week 16 win over the Panthers. In 15 games, Barrett has 51 tackles and a team-leading 10 sacks. His pass-rushing partner, Jason Pierre-Paul, will also be out due to a torn rotator cuff that’s kept him out since Week 15. Pierre-Paul has registered 31 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 12 games in 2021. In their absences, look for Anthony Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to start.

Meanwhile, backup running back Ronald Jones will be out after suffering an ankle injury in Week 17’s comeback win over the Jets. Head Coach Bruce Arians said, “we’ll have to wait and see on [Jones’] ankle because he can run straight but he still can’t cut”. The 24-year old had a walking boot on earlier in the week, but not any longer. Jones has 428 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season. Starter Leonard Fournette, in the meantime, remains on IR, but Arians is optimistic he will be ready for the playoffs. The Bucs would sorely miss his 1,266 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns if doesn’t get activated in time. Ke’Shawn Vaughn is expected to play, and likely start, in Week 18.

Finally, cornerback Richard Sherman is listed as doubtful with an Achilles injury. After suffering a grade 2 calf sprain in November, the 33-year old came back in Week 14. However, he has missed two of three games since, and continued a downward trend in terms of playing time. After being on the field for nearly every down in his first two games as a Buc, Sherman has played a total of 29 snaps since, registering 11 tackles and one interception. Despite the news, Tampa Bay’s secondary is healthy overall.

The Buccaneers head into the final week of the season as the NFC’s third seed, where they will likely end up. They could move up to second, however, with a win over the 5-11 Panthers, along with a 49ers win over the Rams. Regardless of where they finish, though, health will be a huge question mark as they try to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

 

Teams Monitoring Availability Of Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones

A number of teams are dealing with injuries at running back, and they’re looking toward the defending Super Bowl champs for reinforcement. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that teams are monitoring Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones.

It would make sense for teams to assume that Jones is available. Leonard Fournette has taken control of the lead back role, while offseason addition Giovani Bernard continues to dominate passing downs. As a result, Jones has averaged about 12 snaps per game over the past four contests.

However, Pelissero notes that there’s still a question of whether the Bucs would even let go of the former second-round pick. While Jones has seen limited snaps, he is still playing, collecting 23 touches in those aforementioned four games. Plus, he provides the Buccaneers was some insurance in case Fournette or Bernand suffer an injury.

Jones had a career year in 2020, finishing with 1,143 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. He added another 139 rushing yards in three postseason games. The 24-year-old is set to hit free agency following the 2021 season.