Ronald Jones has been dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined since Week 17. Is Jones playing for the Buccaneers against the Rams this week, and how will he impact Tampa Bay’s backfield?
Is Ronald Jones playing today vs. the Rams?
The Buccaneers officially ruled Jones out on Friday after not participating in practice all week.
He will be a free agent in the offseason, and having fallen out of favor since Leonard Fournette’s arrival, is there a change of scenery in the cards for the young running back?
Jones’ 2021 season with the Bucs
Jones had a great season with the Bucs in 2020, rushing for 978 yards and 7 touchdowns in the regular season. It looked like he was ready to take the next step and establish himself as Tampa’s RB1 of the future. However, a lack of depth meant they signed Fournette in September of that season.
Fournette didn’t really come to life in Tampa Bay until the playoffs. “Playoff Lenny” and his performances in those crucial games, paired with his ability to support in the passing game, led to him being favored in 2021. As a result, Jones received far less work this season. In 2020, he carried the ball 192 times in the regular season. This year, he totaled just 101 carries for 428 yards. Jones’ best game came in Week 16 against the Panthers when he rushed for 65 yards.
The future of Tampa Bay’s backfield
What does the future hold for Jones? Do the Buccaneers offer him a deal that keeps him in Tampa Bay? Both he and Fournette are set to be free agents in the offseason, and I’d be leaning towards Fournette getting the better deal. Yet, there could still be a potential RB2 contract for Jones.
Or does he move on? What kind of market will Jones find if he tests 2022 free agency? There are potential suitors, like the Dolphins or the Jets, who could agree to a deal with Jones that doesn’t pay him as a starter out of the gate but allows him the opportunity to earn that role. Both of those rosters, along with a few others in the league, are currently rotating RBs without having a genuine RB1.
Jones is out today, and perhaps he’s played his last down in a Buccaneers uniform.