With a spate of nagging injuries having spread to the fullback position, the New Orleans Saints have signed veteran Greg Jones to a one-year contract.
Jones, 33, spent the 2013 season with the Houston Texans, appearing in all 16 games. Prior to last year, he had spent the first 9 seasons of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, having been selected by the team in the 2nd round of the 2004 NFL draft out of Florida State.
Jones spent his early years in Jacksonville as a backup to Fred Taylor, while also seeing action at fullback. His best season as a runner came in 2005, when he rushed for 575 yards and 4 touchdowns on 151 carries. Jones suffered a knee injury during a preseason game in 2006, ruling him out of that season, and has played fullback almost exclusively since that year.
The Saints suddenly have a need for an extra body at the position as current starter Erik Lorig is sidelined by a leg injury. The injury is not thought to be serious in nature, though Lorig, who signed a four-year deal with the Saints this spring, has been absent from practice most of this week, leaving Austin Johnson as the only healthy fullback. Greg Jones spent last season in Houston.
Greg Jones has long been regarded as one of the league's better run blockers, having helped pave the way for the likes of Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew over the years. From 2007-2011 Taylor and Jones-Drew combined for four Pro Bowl appearances bewteen them, while Jones was named as a Pro Bowl alternate at the fullback position following the 2007 season. The Jaguars finished 2nd in the league in rushing yards in 2007, while Jones-Drew led the league in rushing in 2011.
Jones signed with the Texans before the 2013 season, where he hoped to help pave the way for another All-Pro season from Arian Foster, though the Texans' back struggled with numerous injuries as the team plummeted through a dismal season.
He became the highest-paid fullback in NFL history when he put pen to paper on a five-year $17.3 million contract with Jacksonville after the 2007 season. Often excelling as a runner in goalline and short-yardage situations, the 6-1 252 Jones doubles as a formidable lead blocker who could help the Saints in the power run game, an area in which the team intends to emphasize in 2014.
Greg Jones has routinely graded out as one of the top lead blockers in the game, earning ProFootballFocus's highest grade as recently as 2010. Owner of 913 yards and 10 touchdowns on 272 carries, Jones has appeared in 2 playoff games over his ten-year career.