Jones is back with the Packers
Had the right situation presented itself in free agency, Jones almost certainly wouldn’t be back in Green Bay right now. But as other NFL teams in the market for a top receiver turned elsewhere, a return to the Packers quickly became Jones’ best option.
Jones signed a three-year deal with the Packers this week and could return to practice Thursday if NFL owners and players complete work on a collective bargaining agreement.
“As a competitor, you want to be a No. 1 guy, you want to be a starter,” Jones said. “And going into free agency, that was definitely my plan. It still is my plan, being here. But at the same time, you can’t always just chase the money. I’m not a guy about the money, I don’t just chase the money. And like I said, I wanted to pick the best situation for myself. And me and my wife felt like that was here, whether it may not be this year, but it could be down the road.”
Jones, a third-round draft pick out of San Jose State in 2007, had a career-high 50 catches and 679 yards receiving last season and equaled a career high with five touchdown catches.
He figured that might be enough to tempt another team to make him their top receiver target in free agency, but apparently didn’t receive an offer tempting enough to leave.
“There was definitely a lot of receivers out there, especially in a short time, too,” Jones said. “It wasn’t a regular free agent period. So definitely a lot of receivers out there, and everybody was trying to find a home, and I’m glad I landed back here. I truly believe it’s where I’m supposed to be.”
Packers general manager Ted Thompson was happy to get Jones back after watching guard Daryn Colledge, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins and backup running back Brandon Jackson leave through free agency.
“As many of our guys that we could keep, we’d like to keep,” Thompson said. “The reality of it is, you can’t keep them all. But James is a good player. He fits in very well in our locker room. We think he has a bright future, and we thought he was a good investment.”
Jones said he was happy that some of his teammates lobbied to have him back—and corrected the record about which teammates were doing the lion’s share of the lobbying on his behalf. When asked by a reporter what it meant to him to have the support of players such as Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver, Jones made it clear that Rodgers and Greg Jennings were the players who were most vocally in his corner.
“Aaron and Greg really spoke up pretty good,” Jones said. “It just means a lot that you have teammates that believe in you and care about you the way that they do and this locker room does and the support they have of me. And vice versa, I support them through everything. It definitely meant a lot when I read their statements and comments. I didn’t tear up because I’m not a soft guy like that, but it meant a lot to me for them to step up and talk to the head coach and everybody to say something. I’m glad they feel the way they do.”
Now that his future has been decided, Jones is out to prove that he can fix the biggest flaw in his game: His penchant for occasional dropped passes. Jones said catching a ball coming over his shoulder gives him trouble, and he spent the offseason trying to get better at it.
“I know how to catch,” Jones said. “It’s a handful of balls that I let go last year, and if they were 5-yard catches, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about my drops. Because I only dropped a handful of balls last year, which was least on the team from what I understand. But, since they were so big, everybody knows about them, know what I mean?”
Jones said he hasn’t lost confidence.
“It’s just a couple of balls that I let go—it just happens that they were touchdowns,” Jones said. “You can’t do that, and I can’t do that, but I (haven’t) lost my confidence in myself. I know how to catch.”
Jones said he worked out with San Francisco 49ers players and former college teammates in California during the offseason.