Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones is avoiding organized team activities this offseason, as he was reportedly told by head coach Jay Gruden that he was the team’s No. 5 running back on Washington’s depth chart.
Ex-Washington starter Matt Jones has been told by coach Jay Gruden he is the team’s No. 5 RB and is staying away from OTAs. @nflnetwork
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) June 1, 2017
Jones, 24, started seven games for the Redskins in 2016, but was buried on the depth chart by midseason due to his inability to take care of the football and the emergence of undrafted running back Rob Kelley.
The Redskins’ 2015 third-round draft pick out of Florida showed promise in his rookie season, recording 490 rushing yards, 304 receiving yards, and four touchdowns in 2015. While Jones has shown the ability to be a potential NFL lead running back, his eight career fumbles in two seasons has left him in football limbo in DC.
Washington’s front office selected Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine in the fourth-round of the 2017 draft, and the Redskins 5-foot-11, 233-pound running back is expected to compete with Kelley for first-team reps during OTAs and training camp.
Perine and Kelley are projected to handle early downs, while pass-catching running back Chris Thompson is expected to handle third-down passing situations. Washington’s coaching staff has not publicly stated that Jones is the team’s fifth-string running back, but Mack Brown’s impact on special teams slotted him above Jones down the stretch of the 2016 season.
“I hope so. I expect him to be,” Gruden said of Jones’ participation in OTAs, via Washington’s team website. “He’s on our roster, he’s eating up a spot. We all know that this is voluntary, so there’s really nothing that we can do. We’d like everybody to be here without a doubt, but at the end of the day, Jordan Reed is in Miami working out, Trent (Williams) is working out in Oklahoma, Matt Jones chose not to be here, so we obviously want people to work together and learn together, but it is voluntary at the end of the day.”
The Redskins were reportedly shopping the 6-foot-2, 232-pound running back during the 2017 NFL Draft but were unable to find a trade partner. It seems to be only a matter of time before the Redskins cut ties with the third-year running back, but given his value, Washington’s front office likely has no reason to release him before the roster cut-down period in the preseason.