The Green Bay Packers have a number of difficult decisions to make this offseason and one of them appears to be made already as the Packers are reportedly prepared to allow wide receiver James Jones sign elsewhere as a free agent this offseason.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone who follows the Packers. Green Bay knows as well as anyone that you can’t keep every player and while Jones has been productive for the Packers, particularly over the past two seasons, the 30-year old wide receiver will have to get his payday elsewhere.
Jones, a former third-round pick of the Packers out of San Jose State in 2007, set a career-high in 2013 with 817 receiving yards despite battling injuries the second-half of the season. Jones also had a stellar 2012 season, when he led the NFL in touchdown receptions with 14.
Unfortunately, Jones has never been better than the third or fourth option for the Packers and with the emergence of Jarrett Boykin last season coupled with the fact that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are also headed for free agency in 2015, Jones has become expendable.
Boykin, who got his chance thanks to injuries to Jones and Cobb early in the season, had a breakout season with 49 receptions for 681 yards and three touchdowns. The second-year man from Virginia Tech proved proved he is more than capable of handling the no.3 receiver role and consequently making Jones’ departure even more likely.
“I’m as high on Boykin as anybody in our building,” coach Mike McCarthy said Friday. “He had a heck of a year, and I still think he has another jump in him.”
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Jones agent Frank Bauer, the Packers have not offered Jones a contract and at this point appear to have no plans to extend an offer before the seven-year veteran hits the free agent market next month.
Bauer, who has represented Jones since 2007 said bluntly, “I don’t think Ted Thompson wants him.”
Despite those sentiments, there is a big difference between wanting a player and being able to afford him. If Jones were willing to take a deal similar in value to the one he signed to remain a Packer after the 2010 season, Thompson would surely agree to it in a heartbeat.
Yet, that is not the way the world works in the NFL.
Players rarely give hometown discounts and considering Jones is already 30 years old and that this could be his last chance to strike it rich on the free agent market, a hometown discount is probably out the window.
Jones wants to be paid like a starter and he deserves to be with how he has played over the past two seasons, he just can’t be paid like a starter and stay in Green Bay. It’s a cruel reality, but it’s true.
At the end of the day, you simply can’t keep everyone and unless the market for Jones is limited the way it was in 2010, he has likely played his last game as a Packer.