Thomas Jones, Running back
IT'S NOT every year that a 1,400-yard rusher winds up on the open market, but when Jones wasn't asked back by the Jets, despite finishing third in the league with a career-best 1,402 rushing yards and scoring 14 touchdowns, the Chiefs quickly signed the 10-year veteran to a two-year, $5 million deal.
Jones turned 32 last month, which to some extent explains his availability, but only the Titans' Chris Johnson had more 100-yard games (12) than Jones's seven last season. The tandem of Jones and third-year back Jamaal Charles gives Kansas City a pairing that produced two of the five best rushing days of 2009. Charles, who gained 1,120 yards while starting just 10 games, rolled for 259 yards in a Week 17 win at Denver, and Jones plowed for 210 yards against the Bills in mid-October.
But Jones's robust production is only part of his appeal to the Chiefs. His businesslike approach to the game is contagious. Just ask his former New York teammates, many of whom bemoaned the Jets' willingness to let him walk. "Thomas Jones, he's off the charts," says K.C. coach Todd Haley. "I've never been around somebody who's the complete package like him. The guy is a beast."
With Jones and Charles moving the chains and shifty rookie Dexter McCluster adding some wiggle to the Kansas City ground game, there's no AFC West backfield that goes deeper. The combination could carry the Chiefs' offense further than it has been since the high-scoring Dick Vermeil era.