According to multiple sources (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, NFL.com and CBSSports.com) Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones may be set free into the free agent market. The eight year veteran has shuffled around the depth chart sharing time behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The hands team has done some serious damage with Aaron Rodgers at the helm.James Jones runs free in the open field.
In seven seasons, Jones impressively ranks 12th in Packer franchise history in receptions and 13th in receiving yards. He’s a solid route-runner who has made plays from day one having caught balls from Favre and Rodgers. He’s proven stability missing only eight games in his entire career. 2012 was Jones’ highlight year leading the league with 14 touchdowns.
The magic number of 30 years old approaches but Jones isn’t past his prime. If asked, “What have you done for me lately?” the former third round pick performs with modest progression. He logged 59 catches for 817 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games this past season.
So why would the Pack let James Jones go?
It seems there are more conceivable reasons to let him go than there are to keep him.
2013 was a breakout year from undrafted free agent receiver Jarrett Boykin. Boykin is younger and bigger (24 years old, 6’2, 218 lbs). He recorded 49 catches for 681 yards and three touchdowns in a backup role. Not much different than Jones’ 2013 stats, management can imagine what Boykin can do with more targets leaving Jones out to dry.
Once upon a time, Jones was known for dropping the ball, literally. According to Pro Football Focus, he dropped 12 balls in total between 2010 and 2011. This is definitely an upsetting stat, especially when MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is throwing you the ball. This very well could be why Jones is ranked third on the depth chart.
Jones never surpassed 1,000 yards in a season, he never made a Pro-Bowl; he never reached full potential.
All these reasons combine to indicate there may not be any more upside. Essentially, James Jones didn’t do much wrong. It simply seems he didn’t do enough. As a result, GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy see Jones as a role player. Therefore, the money may be better spent somewhere else.
The Packers have a ton of cap space and holes to fill. Defense is first priority and they may save the piggy bank for upcoming long term deals with the number one and two receivers Nelson and Cobb.
Plus, Green Bay has seen this play work before. Greg Jennings walked out the door and they still picked up the pieces. The next man up philosophy means Boykin will most likely replace Jones in the new receiving trio.
Ultimately, breakups are sad. The saying goes ‘cut the player before they decline, not after’. The Packers are usually good at that so it’s hard to argue with their history of playing chess as opposed to checkers. Still, if let go, James Jones will be missed.