ESPN.com’s Michael Smith (my favorite panelist on Around the Horn) is reporting that the New York Jets have acquired running back Thomas Jones and a second round pick in this year’s draft (63rd overall) from the Chicago Bears in exchange for one of the Jets’ second round picks in this year’s draft (37th overall). The pick traded by the Jets was one acquired in a trade with the Washington Redskins, leaving the Jets with two second round picks, numbers fifty nine and sixty three. Officially, this takes the Jets out of the Michael Turner Sweepstakes while giving the Bears two picks in six – they also have the thirty-first pick in the first round.
Jones, 28, is coming off a 2006 season in which he rushed for 1210 yards and six touchdowns with only one fumble – sharing the load with former University of Texas back and number four overall draft pick in 2005, Cedric Benson. Jones has recently been in the news not only for his performance on the field, helping to lead the Bears to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1985, but also for his appeal to ownership for a raise. Unlike Head Coach Lovie Smith, who received a lucrative four-year, $22 million contract extension, Jones remained unfulfilled like former Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera and linebacker Lance Briggs – who is demanding a trade due to the Bears placing the franchise tag on him.
Now Jones joins the Jets, who had surprising rushing success using rookie running back Leon Washington and second-year back Cedric Houston, who combined for nine touchdowns and 1024 yards. The Bears, however, have to rely on an unproven commodity in Benson, who has 919 career yards and six touchdowns in twenty-four games. He has never, however, carried the load full-time in the NFL. This opens the door for a great deal of speculation regarding how the Bears will address the loss of Jones, but what is certain is that this offseason has not been without its share of tumult for the defending NFC Champions.