Felix Jones was unimpressive in two preseason outings for the Philadelphia Eagles. (Brian Garfinkel/AP)
Felix Jones's days as a Philadelphia Eagle appeared numbered with roster cuts approaching. His sagging career received at least a temporary reprieve Friday as the Eagles traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers for linebacker Adrian Robinson. The trade was first reported by ESPN's Adam Caplan.
Jones, a first-round pick of the Cowboys in the 2008 draft, has struggled to stay healthy during his first five years in the league. He played himself out of Dallas with a quiet 2012, in which he finished with just 402 rushing yards despite picking up seven starts while DeMarco Murray battled injuries.
The 26-year-old Jones has not looked much better this preseason for the Eagles. In two games he gained 45 yards on 12 carries, a 3.75 yards-per-carry average that barely bests the 3.6 he put up last season. Jones was well behind LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown in the Eagles' plans, and it appeared Chris Polk had bumped him from the No. 3 RB job, too.
He's certainly no guarantee to stick in Pittsburgh either, with Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Baron Batch all fighting for playing time while 2013 draft pick Le'Veon Bell deals with a foot injury. Redman may have the inside track on the starting gig for Week 1, though Dwyer stated his case with a strong 68-yard performance at Washington last Monday.
Stephens-Howling, who sat out that game with a knee injury, could be the odd man out. Jones, who has 127 career catches, could push the former Arizona Cardinal for a job.
The uphill battle for Jones will be insurmountable, though, if he cannot show a little more pop in Pittsburgh than he did in Philadelphia. Once a promising prospect, Jones's career really peaked in 2009 and '10. He put up 1,482 all-purpose yards in '09, including 678 on kick returns; the next season, he had 800 yards rushing, 45 receptions and 450 yards receiving, all career highs.
Robinson, an undrafted signee by Pittsburgh last season, will add another body to the Eagles' thin and thus far overmatched linebacking corps. He was not really in the Steelers' plans, buried on the depth chart at outside linebacker by rookie Jarvis Jones' arrival. Robinson did see action on special teams last season, but he finished the year without a tackle.
Whether he can stick in Philadelphia for a longer time than the rapidly-aging Felix Jones in Pittsburgh remains to be seen. Robinson is under contract through 2014 and may be able to sneak onto the Eagles' practice squad.
Jones, meanwhile, inked a cheap, one-year deal with Philadelphia this offseason. He's in make-or-break mode on his career, and the ease with which Philadelphia opted to send him packing does not bode well for Jones' future.