The cheers at Lambeau Field have been replaced by silence. Snow fills the seats where fans sat as recently as six weeks ago, winter keeping its icy grip on this palace, with few signs of relenting anytime soon.
While this happening, the NFL Combine is fully underway in Indianapolis, showcasing the next round of NFLers in front of team executives, coaches, and scouts, each one hoping to show their worth as to why they should be drafted.
The icy cold of the winter and the start of the Combine remind us that the NFL off season is underway, full of free agent speculation and mock drafts to keep legions of fans interested while there is no action on the playing field.
This is also the time of year when we are reminded that the NFL is a business, and as is the case with business, tough decisions are sometimes made to prolong the success of some teams, or spur success to others.
The Packers reminded us of this fact when reports that they are prepared to let James Jones walk away via free agency surfaced Saturday night.
Jones enters free agency at a good time for his career. He was second on the team in 2013 with 817 yards, a year after finishing first in the league with 14 TD receptions. Turning 30 next month, this will most likely be his last chance for a relatively large pay day from a suitor, as well as earn a chance to be a number one/two receiver.
Jones is one of 19 free agent decisions the Packers are facing this offseason. As is always the case in business, the decision will come down to dollars and cents.
Both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are due for extensions from the Packers in the relatively near future, which will occupy a fairly large portion of the salary cap when (if) completed. Also the emergence of Jarrett Boykin in 2013 showed he was more than capable of serving as a number three receiver, which was Jones’ primary role with the Packers.
Mike McCarthy’s comments about Boykin also seemed to indicate his level of confidence in the young receiver:
“I’m as high on Boykin as anybody in our building. He had a heck of a year, and I still think he has another jump in him.”
“I’ve always liked Jarrett. I’ve always felt he had it.”
This leaves Jones on the outside looking in at his future in Green Bay.
You never want to see pieces of the 2010 Super Bowl winning team leave town. That year holds a special place in every Packers fan’s heart, and Jones was a key piece of that team.
Unfortunately, championships are not won in the hearts of fans-they are won on the field. Decisions in the front office are made for the better of the team, not for the fans, to earn more chances to win more championships.
This apparently will be the case of Jones-yet another reminder that the NFL is a business, and sometimes the toughest decisions are made for the best interest of business.
Jones himself realizes the business aspect of the game”
“I spent seven years here (and) would love to finish here. But we all know the business side of it.”
“I love those guys. I love playing with my teammates. That would probably be the toughest part if we did have to start over.”
Sadly, it looks as though starting over is in the cards for James Jones if reports are accurate.
There is only so much money to go around. Unfortunately for Jones, it looks like his will be earned somewhere else in 2014 and beyond.
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.