After clearing close to $20M in cap space with releases and free agent departures, the Packers seem to have put a kink into the Minnesota Vikings plans to sign wide receiver James Jones.
Jones is one of the higher rated free agents at the position, along with players like Braylon Edwards and Malcom Floyd. Earlier in the week, it was reported that a deal had been reached between Jones and the Vikings. As the night turned into day without a conclusion, that story changed. It now appears that the Vikings had made an offer to Jones, but Jones had yet to accept and the Vikings were waiting on him.
It was reported today that the Vikings have now inked free agent receiver Michael Jenkins to a three-year deal. There is no word though if they have lost interest in Jones, but this too could be because Jones is reluctant to sign, if the Packers still want him.
With Packers QB Aaron Rodgers making the public statement earlier this week on ESPN 540 Milwaukee's Homer & Thunder show that the resigning of Jones by his team "should be priority No. 1", it appears that the Packers are making a realistic attempt to keep Jones a member of their potent, Super Bowl champion receiving corps that also includes Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.
Players like Nelson and Jermichael Finley who have contracts ending next year fit into the usual M.O. of general manager Ted Thompson's penchant for releasing and not re-signing elder, higher priced players to re-sign players coming into their prime after being drafted and developed by the Packers.
With Rodgers' strong statement, Jones, like Nelson and Finley could fit into this equation of reallocating cap space to keep young and developed talent; but conventional speculation is that Thompson would not spend No. 2 receiver money for a player that would most likely be slotted in the fourth position like he was in the 2011 season.
Rodgers, who led that potent offense to a championship, obviously recalls times throughout the year when Driver's play was limited due to injury and how Jones played a major role in their run to a championship.
Jones has been labeled a "dropper" by many Packers faithful, not because his average was any worse than his teammates at dropping the ball, but because it happened at critical times in games including what many feel were at least four would-be TD's—including one in the Super Bowl.
Earlier in the week, the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrow caught up with Jones. Barrow reported the following:
Another free agent, Green Bay Packers wideout James Jones, also ha s been a regular at San Jose State, his alma mater. Jones, of course, has been rubbing elbows with 49ers players all offseason. And he actually had one throwing session with Alex Smith and co. on campus. So, would he consider joining those guys and playing in Jim Harbaugh's West Coast offense?
"I'd play for the 49ers," he said.
But before you get your hopes up, 49ers fans, Jones, like most unrestricted free agents, is keeping his options as wide open as possible. "I've got a lot of mixed emotions right now," he said. "I don't really know what I'm going to do. I love my teammates. I love being a Green Bay Packer. At the end of the day, it'll be hard for me to leave. But I also have to worry about providing for my family."
One thing is certain—Jones had at least one reported offer and interest from other teams. With a delay in his signing the reported Vikings contract and their signing of Jenkins, one could assume that Jones is giving the team he loves a chance to keep him if the price is right. That is still uncertain and like you, I too wait for the conclusion.