After weeks of silence from the Chicago Bears organization, a flurry of activity has erupted from Halas Hall. On Monday the Bears announced that they had changed their mind and invited former Detroit Lions running back Kevin Jones for a workout. Jones arrived on Tuesday to show the Bears that he has fully recovered from torn ligaments in his knee. The surprising result is the Bears didn’t even let him get back on the plane before signing him.
Jones has agreed to come to Chicago in a one-year deal worth $605,000 that works as a win-win for both sides. It gives the Bears an experienced, talented back up running back at bargain price and it gives Jones a year to showcase his ability and sustain his professional career.
With this signing, the decision for starting running back becomes murky at best. Do you go with the experienced veteran with an up and down career or the flashy, yet unproven rookie with all the tools? Regardless of all the talk about how rookie Matt Forte should be the starting quarterback, I get the feeling the organization would be more comfortable if they can ease him into the game. Coaches have praised Forte’s great hands and versatility to be a key player on third downs. Assuming a rookie running back can handle the pounding and pressure of playing all three downs is dangerous. If the Bears are planning on having Forte available on third down, they will need someone else to occassionally rotate in on first and second down.
The Bears may also be proceeding with caution with their rookie running back, because as great as he has appeared in OTA’s, coaches still haven’t seen him in full contact drills. There is no understatement that the preseason will be extremely important to the future of Matt Forte. If he doesn’t show coaches he is ready then Kevin Jones will be ready to step in as starter.
Signing Kevin Jones should not be taken lightly. The former first round pick has shown some ability and gained 1,133 yards his rookie season. He’s never been able to replicate that success in his following three seasons, but he also has had trouble staying off the injured list. Given the contract price and length this was the perfect gamble for the Bears.
A few years ago the Bears signed another former first round pick in Thomas Jones and that gamble paid off pretty well. Let’s hope the Bears have the same success.