The NFL Scouting Combine is in full swing, marking the first major event of what should be an action-packed offseason leading up to the 2014 NFL season.
With tons of scouts, general managers and other personnel converging on Indianapolis for an extended look at the top prospects, there is the opportunity for business to be discussed and transactions to take place.
Because of that, a number of rumors are leaking out of Lucas Oil Stadium. Let’s take a look at some of the buzz around the National Football League in the rumor roundup.
Jones May Not Be in the Cards for Green Bay
James Jones has been a boom-or-bust member of the Green Bay Packers’ receiving corps and it seems that his inconsistency may cost him a job with the team.
According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a source close to the situation has indicated that Jones has not been offered a new contract and likely will not get one this offseason.
"I don't think [Packers GM] Ted Thompson wants him,” James' agent, Frank Bauer, said.
One reason for that is the emergence of Jarrett Boykin, who stepped up after Randall Cobb went down with an injury early last season. The 24-year-old answered the call by racking up 681 yards and three scores on 49 receptions.
The coaching staff seems to love the youngster too. "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," Mike McCarthy told reporters.
The 29-year-old James likely does not have that another jump at his advancing age.
While he produced 59 receptions for 817 yards in 2013, his touchdown numbers fell drastically. He caught only three scoring passes during the most recent season, a significant drop from the 13 touchdowns he racked up during a 64-catch, 784-yard campaign in 2012.
Jones missed a handful of games due to a sprained knee and played through broken ribs, but his toughness likely won’t earn him a new contract. As McGinn's report suggests, he understands the business:
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.
It’ll be interesting to see where Jones winds up in the offseason and what he will make in relationship to the $9.6 million over three years he just earned from Green Bay.
Talib Approached by Patriots
The New England Patriots have a lot of maneuvering to do this offseason and one priority for the organization is bolstering the secondary.
While it may be expensive for the team to keep star cornerback Aqib Talib on the roster, there seems to be a distinct possibility that the veteran remains with the club.
According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, the Pats have already held preliminary talks with Talib’s camp at the combine and are hoping to convince the unrestricted free agent to remain in New England.
The Pats' brass is wise to get a jump-start on negotiating with the defensive back, as it has exclusive rights until free agency opens on March 11. Any team in the league looking for a top-tier corner will at least look into Talib’s services considering his body of work over six seasons in the NFL.
He’s coming off a one-year, $5 million deal signed last spring to remain in New England after the franchise acquired him from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the 2012 trade deadline.
Where will Talib wind up?
It’s likely that Talib is looking to earn some more security after proving himself and staying away from off-field issues during his tenure with the Patriots.
While he suffered a hip injury in Week 6 and exited the team’s AFC Championship Game loss to the Denver Broncos due to a rib injury, Talib should still be one of the highest-paid corners this offseason.
Ben Volk of 30yardline.com thinks that a three-year deal worth $21 million would be overpaying for Talib, but an ESPN poll he posted noted that most fans think it would be fair.
That money may not come from the Pats, however, as owner Robert Kraft went on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz Show (h/t Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com) during the Super Bowl lead-up and spoke about his club’s financial situation:
It's not like we have unlimited funding. [Talib] wasn't on the field a lot of the time since he's been with us. It's a balance, of us balancing all that out and what is he worth. I think he's happy here and would like to be here. We're happy with him and we'd like to have him here. Now it's just about doing business, and that's our intent.
Regardless of what happens, Talib is going to play an instrumental part in a team’s secondary this upcoming season. He’s worth the money and arguably one of the league’s best corners when healthy.