Ted Thompson does not usually sign veteran players to fill a void, but when he does it tends to be one he is familiar with. In the past, Thompson has brought back Ahman Green, Ryan Grant, Mark Tauscher and Matt Flynn to help fill some unexpected holes after previously parting way with those players. James Jones will now be added to that list, and he has an opportunity to contribute more than any of those players did in their second stints in Green Bay.
Jones was added after a pretty surprise cut from the New York Giants following a solid preseason for him. Jones caught a career-high 73 passes last season in Oakland, but he only averaged 9.1 yards per catch. Even though he was cut from the Raiders and Giants, he is far from done and is a welcome addition to the inexperienced Green Bay wide receiver corps. He was cut in both places because the teams wanted to go younger, not necessarily based on merit. The Raiders are rebuilding and wanted to unload his money, and the Giants probably wanted to go with a developmental guy behind Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Reuben Randle.
The low yards per catch total may be from a little loss of athleticism or just what Jones was asked to do in Oakland. Speed was never Jones’ game anyways. His best attribute was being able to make contested catches and using his body to block off corners. That’s exactly what Aaron Rodgers needs right now. He needs somebody that even know he’s covered he trusts that if he can put the ball in the right spot that it will be caught. Rodgers just doesn’t have that yet with Ty Montgomery or Jeff Janis.
You will see Rodgers believe in Jones enough to throw those back shoulder throws that they were so good at before. Jones is also a good red zone player, and that’s an are the Packers struggled in late last season. He caught six touchdowns for Oakland last season and led the NFL in touchdowns in 2012 with 14.
Another reason Jones is an ideal fit is because he can play the outside receiver spot. The Packers want to keep Randall Cobb doing what he does best working in the slot, Montgomery is also more of a natural slot and Rodgers and Janis do not seem to have a lot of chemistry together yet. Montgomery and Janis will do well to be able to learn behind Jones this year. Davante Adams will as well, since he’s still only in his second year.
Jones is not an ancient player, as he is only 31 years old — or only one year older than Nelson. He has football left in him, and the Packers needed a veteran who they can plug and play right away. If they have to release Myles White than so be it. It’s likely he will never be able to do much if not facing backups.
The Packers don’t need Jones to be Nelson. They just need him to be a possession No. 3 receiver who can give Rodgers somebody he trusts in a big spot and can provide leadership by helping mentor the young players. He is more than capable of doing all those things, and it will be a fun story to have him back in Green Bay.——————