ESPNews reports the Chicago Bears have signed free-agent running back Kevin Jones (Lions) to a one-year contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
After reportedly whittling down his choices to the Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers, Jones (knee) elected to remain in the NFC North, where he'll join his former club's divisional rival. Jones spent his first four years with the Detroit Lions, performing well at times but never coming close to fulfilling the promise he displayed as a rookie in 2004, when he ran for 1,133 yards.
Injuries have been a prevailing factor in his inability to duplicate his first-year success. They have prevented him from ever playing a full 16-game season in his career. He is coming off a torn ACL suffered last December, and the year before that he endured a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot. It's not a certainty that Jones will participate in training camp, and it's possible he will be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Jones, who was cut by the Lions, now joins a team that also cut their 2007 starter, halfback Cedric Benson. Benson underperformed on the field during his time in Chicago, but it was problems off the field that sealed his fate. The Bears drafted tailback Matt Forte in the second round of this year's draft, and he figures to be the team's featured back. Running backs Adrian N. Peterson and Garrett Wolfe are also on roster.
The signing of Jones should have minimal effect on Forte, who is still expected to be the starter and primary ball carrier for the Bears. Jones, an able receiver out of the backfield, should see time on third downs in addition to spelling Forte throughout the game. Jones' signing effectively pushes Peterson down the depth chart, and Peterson may be hard pressed to see many touches in 2008 without an injury to Forte or Jones. Wolfe will probably keep his roster spot as insurance given Jones' durability issues and Peterson's role on special teams. However, he has the look of a frequent gameday inactive if Jones is available.
For fantasy purposes, continue viewing Forte as weak No. 3 fantasy back with some upside. Jones could slide into a slot as a shaky fourth or solid fifth option and a decent handcuff to Forte in deeper leagues. Peterson's value is all but gone, and he is no longer worth a pick, although he could be worth a waiver claim in deep leagues should Jones not be ready to back up Forte. Wolfe has no value.
About Herija C. Green
A graduate of the prestigious Top Gun school, Green's ego writes checks his body can't cash. When he's not overdrawing his ego's bank account, Green enjoys games of beach volleyball, riding his Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, and buzzing the tower (whether the pattern is full or not). He resides in the Danger Zone and yes, Ice... Man, he is dangerous. He also writes.
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