Writing on the Wall For James Jones’ Departure

James Jones

According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers are unlikely to offer unrestricted free agent wide receiver James Jones a contract.

We have been down this road before with Jones during the offseason of 2010. It looked as though the Packers were prepared to let Jones walk, but he did not find the money he was looking for elsewhere and returned to Green Bay for a three-year, $9.4 million contract.

That can always happen again with Jones, but it seems more unlikely this time around.  One of the factors working against Jones is that is he now 29 years old and might not be in his prime for much longer. Jarrett Boykin proved last season that he would be able to effectively replace Jones, and he still has almost his whole career ahead of him to improve.

Also, the NFL Draft is stocked with a ton of wide receivers. My estimate is that there are about 15 wide receivers among the top 100 players. Ted Thompson has struck gold with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the second round and Jones in the third round in the past. I would be surprised if Thompson doesn’t go back to that well again to take advantage of the value with the wide receivers in this class.

The wide receiver position is absolutely crucial if the Packers do not retain Jermichael Finley or acquire another field stretching tight end. You may not think of it as a huge need, but if Jones leaves than drafting a wide receiver high seems necessary. One injury can really hurt you f you go into the season with just Cobb, Nelson and Boykin as your only established receivers. They really need four effective ones.

Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams and Martavis Bryant would be three guys I would look into in the second round. Matthews has the versatility to play inside and out and at 6 feet 3 inches tall is a big target. Adams was one of the most productive wide receivers in the country at Fresno St. last season. Bryant is a physical freak who ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine at 6 feet 4 inches and 211 pounds. He was not very productive at Clemson, but in the Packers offense he can reach his full potential.

Losing Jones would be hard because he has been a very productive player for a long time in Green Bay. In seven seasons, Jones has caught 310 passes for 4,305 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns. He overcame drop issues early in his career to become a very dependent wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers.

Jones did not slow down last season and was very productive again despite the changes at the quarterback position. He had 59 catches for 817 yards and three touchdowns. The three touchdowns were 11 less than he had in 2012, but touchdowns are often random for wide receivers year to year. Backup quarterbacks not giving Jones good opportunities in the red zone, and the Packers scoring 17 rushing touchdowns last season were reasons why Jones’ touchdown total was down.

Despite not having great straight line speed, Jones has been a big play wide receiver for the Packers by winning the battle for contested balls deep down the field. His timing with Rodgers on back shoulder throws has been impeccable, and he was often able to create big plays by making defenders miss tackles on wide receiver screens.

According to Cian Fahey of Bleacher Report, when you take away 15 of Jones’ catches on screens, an  amazing 39.2 percent of his receptions were on contested balls last season. You would like to see him get open more, but if he can keep making those tough catches than more power to him. His upper body strength and overall athleticism are keys to winning those battles with defenders when the ball is in the air.

Some team will be getting a good value if Jones does leave Green Bay. Make no mistake about it, Jones would be a  loss and the Packers will have to replace him in the draft if he finds a new home.

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Matt Bove is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RayRobert9.

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