Just a week after re-signing inside linebacker Rob Francois, the Green Bay Packers may not be finished re-signing with their free agent linebackers
According to the post, Jones showed up at the facility, seemingly to talk to the Packers about a possible return for the 2013 season and beyond then left after about an hour. Jones did not speak to the media upon his exit from the facility and there was no indication that a deal has been completed.
Jones, a four-year veteran who was drafted in Round 7 of the 2009 NFL Draft, has spent four seasons with the Packers, mostly serving as a backup linebacker and key special teams contributor.
However, last season, the former Colorado Buffalo had his best season in Green Bay after he was forced into the starting lineup due to injuries to Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith. Jones played in all 16 games for Green Bay, starting 10 at inside linebacker. He registered a career-high 77 tackles with two sacks and four passes defensed.
At the start of NFL free agency, it appeared that Jones was going to be one of the more sought-after inside linebackers, following comments by his agent that suggested as many as eight different teams had expressed interest in the versatile linebacker. Yet to this point, the 6'3", 242-pound linebacker has only made one official visit, which was with the Tennessee Titans.
Green Bay also has a stockpile of inside linebackers with Bishop, A.J Hawk, Smith, Francois and Terrell Manning all slated to return in 2013. A return by Jones would add another body to an already deep depth chart.
However, Jones' versatility may be the reason Green Bay is interested in his return, particularly following the departure of Erik Walden to the Indianapolis Colts. As a rookie, Jones flashed some potential at outside linebacker in the Packers' 3-4 defense and started seven games opposite of Clay Matthews, totaling 29 tackles, four sacks and one pass defensed.
So it’s possible the Packers have an interest in bringing back Jones, who played 794 of 801 possible defensive snaps over the final 12 games. He would not only to compete for the starting job at inside linebacker, but also to add depth to the outside linebacker position.
Jones has some skills as a pass-rusher and excels in coverage, which makes him a great fit for the substitute packages in Dom Capers defense because he can rush the passer from both linebacker positions while also holding his own in coverage.
At this point, it’s unclear if Jones' return to the team is imminent but the Packers rarely let talented, home-grown players leave so early in their careers, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he returned to Green Bay in the end.
Versatile defenders like Jones don't grow on trees and his presence on the roster would continue be a tremendous asset to Capers and the Green Bay defense, even if he doesn’t return to his starting role.
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