The Green Bay Packers have the best group of pass catchers in the National Football League. So, when the topic of trading fifth-year wide receiver James Jones comes up, it seems like a slam-dunk move.
Why not trade away a backup wide receiver when you could potentially get another valuable asset in return. A mid-round draft choice or even a quality defensive player may make trading Jones well worth it. On the other hand, in the NFL, trades are always risky.
Jones may be the Packers fourth best wide receiver on the roster, (let's face it, Jermichael Finley is a receiver) but he is still a good football player.
Last season was the best of Jones' career, as he caught 38 passes for 635 yards and scored seven touchdowns. His average per reception of 16.7 yards was a career high and shows potential suitors just how explosive Jones can be.
Even though Jones did not get a ton of opportunities in 2011 (he was targeted just 55 times) he made the most of them, catching 69 percent of the passes thrown his way and posting an impressive 11.5 yards per target, which ranked third in the NFL.
The question is, would the Packers really miss Jones if they did indeed trade him?
The answer. Probably not.
Green Bay already has five very good pass catchers in Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb and Finley. Plus a promising group of young, talented wide receivers that includes Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel, Shaky Smithson and Dale Moss.
Gurley, who spent the 2011 season on the Packers practice squad, has impressed the organization with his 6'4" 232-pound frame and his eye-popping athleticism. He has been noticed by other teams as well as the Vikings offered him a spot on their active roster near the end of the season, but he declined the invitation to stay in Green Bay.
The former rookie free agent from South Carolina is the most likely candidate to assume Jones' spot on the roster if he is traded.
If Jones stays, then Gurley is talented enough to force the Packers to seriously consider keeping six receivers (normally they keep five).
Gurley’s presence, along with the development of Cobb, is likely the biggest reason behind Green Bay’s interest in feeling out the trade market. If a deal is done, the Packers would presumably get a valuable asset in return, while at the same time giving Gurley and Cobb a chance to take the next step in their developments.
Yet the trade is risky because talent is hard to replace and despite some of the struggles he has had with drops, Jones is a good player that will undoubtedly be a solid starter wherever he goes.
The Packers also know how quickly depth can disappear in the NFL. The team has been plagued by injuries each of the past two seasons and in a league with limited roster spots, even quality depth can disappear fast and no team can ever have enough good players.
Making a deal for Jones could payoff in the end, but trading away a sure thing for an unknown commodity always comes with a risk.
So, when it comes down to it, the Packers should trades Jones only if the price is right.