One of the biggest decisions the Jets have to make regarding their 2010 roster is what to do with Thomas Jones, who is coming off his most productive season at age 31.

Statistically speaking, it would appear to be a no-brainer. Jones ran for more yards (1,402) and more touchdowns (14) than ever before. And with the Jets thriving on a run-first approach, the Jets would appear to be wise to keep him for at least the final year of his contract.

But on this one, you have to look deeper into the numbers to see that this is far more complicated than that.

For starters, there is Jones' salary: He is due to make a total of $5.8 million in 2010, which includes a $3 million roster bonus due March 9. That's not a ridiculous amount of money for a starting running back who is coming off his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season. In fact, it might even be undervalued.

But with Shonn Greene emerging late last season as the Jets' feature back, and with Jones' production falling way off in the playoffs, there are some deeper issues at work here.

Let's look at the numbers: In his final four games, including the last regular season game against the Bengals and the Jets' three playoff games, Jones rushed for 195 yards on 72 carries, an average of just 2.7 yards per carry. That's a huge drop-off from his 4.2-yards per carry average in the regular season. Not only that, but Jones was given a day off from practice each week late in the season to help keep him fresh.

Greene, meanwhile, emerged as the go-to guy in the postseason. He rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in a first-round win over the Bengals, then 128 yards and a touchdown in the divisional round win over the Chargers. He gained just 41 yards in the AFC Championship Game loss to the Colts, but had to leave after suffering bruised ribs in the second quarter.

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The Jets are clearly going with Greene as their feature back, although they love Jones' toughness and leadership qualities enough to consider keeping him for another season.

The problem is that they can't justify his $5.8 million payout if he goes into the season as the backup. Now the question is how much of a paycut Jones is willing to take. The Jets are wisely pushing the issue in a bid to keep his salary at a more acceptable level. Whether Jones is willing to accept that cut remains to be seen.

Complicating things a bit further is the uncertain situation with running back Leon Washington, who is coming off a broken leg. All indications are Washington will be ready by the season opener, but there are no guarantees.

So while the Jets are smart to request a paycut from Jones, they also need to keep their options open in the event Washington isn't ready. What to do? 

Try and work out a compromise that is acceptable to Jones and keep him on the roster.  The guy has done yeoman's work in his three seasons with the team, and there's no reason he can't stay in the rotation. 

But if Jones is looking for a deal that won't fit within the team's salary structure, then it's time to move ahead without him and add Jones to the list of thirtysomething running backs out of work. That list already includes LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook.

And if Jones overplays his hand, he'll be next.

PHOTOS: Thomas Jones