Part 2 of ESPNDallas.com's position-by-position series is on running backs. Bryan Broaddus assumes that DeMarco Murray comes back from his ankle injury and regains the starter's role in which he thrived, and that fullback Tony Fiammetta recovers from his own health issues and is re-signed for the fullback role in which he thrived. But Bryan raises this interesting question regarding Felix Jones, who opened the 2011 season as the starter but lost the job to injury and Murray:
Should the Cowboys consider trading Jones this offseason? It's hard to accomplish a trade with Jones entering the final year of his contract. The Cowboys should explore whether a fourth-or fifth-round pick is available for the former first-round pick. The team doesn't trust Jones to become a 20-down back in the NFL. He's a solid backup, which leads us to Phillip Tanner. He should compete with Jones for more playing time. If he makes the roster, he should get more game-day carries and special teams snaps.
Personally, I'm kind of with Broaddus in that I don't see how much value Jones is going to have. If you're saying he's not good enough to be an every-down starter, and that's the reason you're dealing him, you can't really expect another team to decide you're wrong and that he can. So you're basically offering a change-of-pace back and hoping to get a fourth- or fifth-round pick for him. If a team's in the market for a back like that, why wouldn't they just draft one with that fourth- or fifth-round pick and develop him themselves?
Jones is, at this point, a nice luxury for the Cowboys -- a starting-quality back who can sub in for a short time if Murray gets hurt but isn't likely to be able to hold up over long stretches. With one year left on Jones' deal, the Cowboys would do well to give Tanner more time next year and see what they have with him. That'd be easier with Jones out of the picture, but he's worth too much to just cut or give away for nothing. If the Cowboys can find a team willing to part with a mid-round pick for Jones, it'd be a wise deal to make. But if not, he's worth hanging onto in the role in which he finished the 2011 season.