The Eagles have added another option to the mix at running back, signing Felix Jones to a one-year deal and releasing wide receiver Marvin McNutt.
Jones, 26, spent his first five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He dealt with knee, shoulder and rib injuries last season and played in only 34.7 percent of the offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Jones did not miss a single game due to injury in 2012, but he was on the injury report 10 times (probable seven times, questionable three times).
“I’ve seen Coach [Chip] Kelly do his thing when he played his Bowl games at Oregon,” Jones said. “It seems like a fun system, a fun thing he has going on. No huddles and things of that nature. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to learn the playbook and get going.”
Clearly, Jones (5-10, 215) was not his usual self when he was on the field, managing just 402 yards on 111 attempts and averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry. Among the 44 players who had at least 100 carries in 2012, only four had a worse YPC average than Jones.
“Well, obviously none,” Jones said when asked what the interest in him was like when free agency started back in March. “Once I got here and checked out the team and coaches and the organization, I felt like it was a great fit.”
For his career, Jones has averaged a healthy 4.8 yards per carry and shown the type of versatility that Chip Kelly covets. Last year, he caught 26 balls for 266 yards, averaging 10.2 yards per reception. Jones had 33 catches in 2011 and 48 in 2010. At his best, Jones can line up in the backfield or as a wide receiver and be used to create mismatch problems.
He also has experience as a kick returner and said he caught a couple during his first practice on Tuesday.
“I’m excited about kickoff returns,” Jones said. “It’s something I always did, something that I always wanted to do. Whenever coach gives me an opportunity to go out there and do it, I’m definitely ready to go.”
The Eagles have LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown as their primary backs, but there are depth spots up for grabs. Chris Polk is still on the roster, and the team signed undrafted free agents Miguel Maysonet (Stony Brook) and Matt Tucker (TCU).
By all accounts, the Eagles plan on using an up-tempo attack with an emphasis on the running game. That means there will be plenty of carries to go around. Jones will have to show he’s healthy, but he’ll have a chance to compete for a roster spot during the next several months.