It was reported early Monday that the Miami Dolphins, along with three other NFL teams, have shown interest in free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The interest is reportedly significant enough that all four teams could meet with the running back’s representatives this week.
The Dolphins had also met with free running back Knowshon Moreno late last week, but he eventually left South Florida without a contract. It would appear that for now, the Dolphins have shifted their attention toward potentially signing Jones-Drew.
The franchise has a need at running back, but the Jacksonville Jaguars running back is not the right man to fill that void.
Jones-Drew ran for 3.4 yards carry on 234 carries as the Jaguars’ starting running back in 2013. He showed clear signs of wear-and-tear just two years after leading the league in carries and rushing yards in 2011. Jones-Drew’s 1804 rushing attempts is the fifth-most of any active running back in the NFL.
The team needs help running the football. Although Jones-Drew remains one of the best pass blockers of any back in the NFL — his pass blocking efficiency was 100 percent according to Pro Football Focus — he leaves a lot to be desired in terms of his ability to contribute in the running game.
According to PFF, Jones-Drew’s rushing grade was a -5.7 on 664 snaps. The Dolphins’ offense won’t improve with that type of rushing in 2014.
Though Jones-Drew is one of the best running backs of his generation and is certainly the most well-known and established name of any running back on the free agent market this offseason, the Dolphins would in no way shape or form benefit from signing a 29-year-old running back with eight years of NFL service on his body.
Last offseason, the Atlanta Falcons signed a veteran running back who was at a similar point of his career as Jones-Drew is at right now. The Falcons signed 30-year-old running back Steven Jackson to replace the 30-year-old Michael Turner as the starting running back.
A year after advancing to the NFC Championship Game, the Falcons, due to many injuries including to Jackson, went 4-12. Jackson started 12 games for the team after spending the first nine years of his career with the St. Louis Rams. He had 157 attempts for 543 yards and 3.5 yards per carry.
The Falcons’ signing of Jackson is a cautionary tale for any NFL team looking to improve its running game by signing a well-established running back with a lot of wear on his tires. The Dolphins would be wise not to make the same mistake that the Falcons made last offseason by signing a veteran running back with a lot of wear-and-tear on his body.