It’s fair to say that after Jordy Nelson went down with a season ending injury in the preseason, James Jones saved the Packers offense.
On a receiver squad that was full of inexperience, and veteran Randall Cobb who is better suited for the slot, Jones was clearly the best option as the number 1.
He immediately proved it by hauling in 21 catches, for 424 yards and 6 touchdowns, as the team won their first 6 games.
After that he started drawing more attention from defenses, which pulled the coverage away from the Packers other receivers. They answered with a bunch of drops on key plays and the team began to sputter.
Besides Cobb none of those others receivers had more than two years experience, and a lot of them lost time due to injury.
The Packers are a team that covet youth. So, even though Jones finished the season with a team leading 890 yards, 17.8 yards per reception, and tied for the the team lead with 8 TDs, he is the only one of the Packers receivers who is not under contract for next year, and will probably be the first one shown the door.
“I’ve said it before, I would love to finish my career here,” Jones said. “But I said that last time, so… It’s a crazy business. We’ll see what happens.”
Most Packer fans would love to see what would happen if Jones got another opportunity to line up opposite Nelson with Cobb in the slot.
What kind of damage could this guy do if he had another top notch receiver drawing the other team’s best defender away from him? Well, he already answered that a few years back when he led the NFL in touchdown receptions.
With Aaron Rodgers on the wrong side of 30 years old, and the Packers defense playing as well as we’ve seen in years, it would just seem to make sense to let A-Rod keep that extra weapon. To do whatever is necessary to bring another trophy to Title Town.
The remaining receivers are all still under their rookie contracts and could make a fearsome foursome in the next few seasons if given the chance to mature under Rodgers.
So if you had to choose, which one would you let go?
Davante Adams is the most similar to Jones, and is probably the favorite to replace him. Although oft injured and inconsistent at times, he has shown the ability to make big plays in the clutch and seems to have earned Rodgers trust.
It’s a hard choice. Considering 3 of the 4 are headed into their third year, which is commonly considered the breakout year for receivers, and the other(Montgomery) possesses the skills coveted in today’s high-octane offenses.
What Jones brings to this team that none of the youngsters can offer, is a sense of leadership, experience and camaraderie.
“Man, it was great to be back,” Jones said,”Be back with my teammates, a lot of guys that I came in with for the first seven years of my career. It felt good. I wish it would have ended a different way. It didn’t, but it felt good to be back.”
I think it’s time the Packers reward that loyalty by finding a way to bring him back once again, and set this team up for another deep run in the playoffs.