James Jones vs. Randy Moss: Same Story, Different Ending

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Aaron Rodgers and James JonesEveryone gather around and let me tell you a story:

In 2007 the story goes that Green Bay Packer franchise quarterback Brett Favre approached General Manager Ted Thompson about the possibility of signing wide receiver Randy Moss.  Thompson took to the phones but unfortunately New England offered the best deal and Moss became a Patriot.

In 2011 the story goes that Green Bay Packer franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers approached General Manager Ted Thompson about the possibility of signing wide receiver James Jones.  Thompson took to the phones and fortunately Green Bay offered the best deal and Jones remains a Packer.

Same story, different ending.

So what gives?  Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson from Green and Gold Today on ESPN Milwaukee recently brought up this question, and after admitting they couldn’t figure out an explanation, they concluded that maybe it was because Aaron Rodgers is Thompson’s “guy”, maybe it was the familiarity with the offense, Randy Moss’ history as a locker room killer, the difference in talent between Moss and Jones, etc.  All valid points to some extent, but it doesn’t answer what the difference was between Brett Favre asking for Randy Moss and Aaron Rodgers asking for James Jones.

The real story is that there was no difference.

Ted Thompson probably pays less attention to free agency than any other GM in the league.  And when he does sign a free agent, it’s always on his terms.

Andrew Brandt has previously written about his time in the Packers front office and he has written a piece on the Packers’ attempt to net Randy Moss.  Apparently, the deals that the Packers and Patriots offered Moss were very similar in terms of compensation to the Raiders and the contract offered.  The only difference was that that the Packers wanted a 2-year deal minimum while the Patriots finally caved in and offered a 1-year deal.

The reasoning was pretty simple, Moss was willing to play at a discount for an opportunity to recoup the loss the next year; Moss’ stock had fallen drastically during his time with the Raiders and he was betting on hitting it big with a successful season.  Of course the rest is history, Randy Moss had perhaps the finest season a wide receiver has ever seen in 2008, setting the single season record for touchdown receptions with 23 and a near perfect season (only to lose the New York Giants in the Super Bowl).

Ted Thompson on the other hand, wasn’t willing to take on Moss for only one year; from Thompson’s perspective if Moss had a dismal season then the trade was a failure, but if Moss had a stellar season then he would be on the open market again and Thompson would have to completely overpay to keep Moss on the team given his reputation (which the Patriots ultimately did to the tune of a 3-year, $27 million deal).

Obviously Thompson’s stubbornness blew up in his face a little, in my opinion even if Thompson had only manage to keep Moss on the roster for a year, that one year was probably value enough to warrant the deal.  Of course, just because Moss succeeded with the Patriots doesn’t automatically mean he would have succeeded with the Packers.  Would he have connected with Favre as well as he did with Brady?  Would the locker room in Green Bay been strong enough to contain Moss like locker room in New England was able to?  Who knows.  But just in terms of production and scheme, Randy Moss was worth it in 2008.

In 2011 Thompson again stuck to his guns.  During the offseason, everyone thought James Jones was as good as gone and that if Thompson wanted Jones back, he was going to have to outbid several teams for Jones’ services, which usually means shelling out a pretty penny.  Many (including myself) assumed that teams would look over his deficiencies (most notably dropping passes at the most inopportune times) and overpay to get a young wide receiver with a ton of experience and talent.  However, five days into free agency and there was no word from Jones.

Obviously something had gone very wrong.  Free agents were being signed left and right, with many wide receivers in the range of Jones’ talent being picked up at all sorts of prices.  In the end, news broke out that Jones had resigned with the Packers, but details about the deal were not made public.

That was the first sign that Thompson had gotten Jones on the cheap; everyone likes to brag and when a big contract gets signed, players and agents alike will triumphantly take to twitter and the like and announce the terms of the deal.  The fact that Jones and his agent didn’t announce the deal meant that they were both forced to take an offer much lower than they had expected.   In particular Jones’ agent definitely wanted to downplay the deal since it would hinder his chances of getting other wide receivers to hire him.  In fact it took nearly a week for the terms of the deal to be leaked to the public, and they are unimpressive at best; a 3-year contract worth $9.3 million.  At an average of $3.1 million per year, it puts Jones firmly as a tier 3 free agent wide receiver.

I can only imagine the disappointment in Jones’ camp when free agency turned a cold shoulder to him.  I can also imagine that Jones considered the same route that Randy Moss took in 2007; play for a discount for one year and hope that you have a stellar season and get a better contract next year.  But in the end, Jones chose to resign with the Packers on Ted Thompson’s terms, while the next three years definitely takes a sizable chunk out of Jones’ prime years, he will have the option of hitting the market one more time before he hits 30, when most teams begin to worry about a player’s age.

I think the big misconception Wilde and Johnson have is the true pushing power of a quarterback.  Even with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, who both look like they’re on their way to Canton, Ted Thompson has proven he will stick to his guns, regardless of what other people want him to do.  Arguably, if Thompson doesn’t get any feedback in terms of personnel from Head Coach Mike McCarthy (which is perhaps why the two work so well together), why would Thompson let a quarterback do his job?

At the combine, every GM will stand at the podium and espouse the advantages of draft and developing players in-house.  The vast majority of them will then turn around and literally throw money at player’s feet once free agency starts.  Ted Thompson has always walked the talk; people might not like it, but at least he’s true to his word.




Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.


  • Tarynfor 12

    My theory on the Favre and TT sit down as to the possible signing of Moss went like this.

    Favre”Ted,I really want Moss because he will add to the team”.Secretly thinking he’ll make my TD to INT ratio look a little more respectable.TT sat at the desk and offered this little bit to Favre,”Why would I want to sign anyone you want for any reason,when I don’t even want you here anymore.Close the door when you leave,as I’m closing it on you already”.While unscrewing the cap off the water bottle and succeeding in taking a sip.

    It was a win-win for Ted that day.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Andrew Brandt does mention that Thompson was interested in Moss, and the fact that he was interested the second time coming around should mean that Thompson was serious about getting Moss (at the right price of course). I do agree that I think Brett Favre had little to no say in the matter.

  • Tarynfor 12

    As for Jones re-signing it was a little more personal ala the Godfather,TT(Michael Corleone)”James,your a Packer and I love you,but don’t ever try to play for another team again…ever”.Then hands him a contract and tells James to get some of the others to sign their offers they can’t refuse.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I doubt he even had to go that far, I’m actually surprised that there wasn’t more news that teams were interested. If I was Jones’ agent I would have probably organized some workouts, just to create the impression of a market, then at least Jones and his agent can claim that there were higher offers but he gave a hometown discount to the Packers.

  • Ron LC

    I’m amused with the typical “Sports Reporter” digging for a story that isn’t there. AR just expressed his opion and gave support to a guy he considers his friend. This AR turning into to Brent crap is all in the minds of the reporters.

    Heard JJ on WSSP yesterday, He says he never knew if he was close to a Minn signing. He was never a part of the negotiations. He’s glad to be back with the Pack. In other words he didn’t get the kind of attention he exppected and is diappointed. He as much as admitted that the INT on Family Night was his fault. He went too far down field.-

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Well, there was also talk that Rodgers was privy to the contract talks so his comments to the media might not have been as original as many thought. It’s quite possible that Jones and Thompson were close to a deal and maybe Rodger’s and Jenning’s comments helped Jones agree to the deal; getting praised by your quarterback and fellow wide receiver is a big vote of confidence.

      • Ron LC

        Interesting take Thomas! It seems to make sense.

  • FireMMNow

    i guess you could compare the fact that both players are WRs and their QBs lobbied for them. But that is where the similarities stop. TT knows exactly what he is getting in Jones. Moss was a complete enigma after his final year in Oakland. Jones has no chance to destroy a locker room, the likelihood that moss could destroy a locker room was about 60-40 to the bad. Lets also remember that Jones is one of TTs guys and Randy was not. Signing Jones fits perfectly into TTs plan, keeping young talent in house has always been his M.O. Also, I do not think Rodgers would turn in his retirement papers the day after Jones signed elsewhere.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I think it was a calculated risk that Thompson was willing to take (as indicated by the fact that he tried to sign Moss a second time). Keep in mind Charles Woodson’s career was dying in Oakland before Thompson signed him. For $3 million and a 4th round pick, I think it’s a risk that many would take. At the very worst, if Moss becomes an issue you can always dump him, kinda of like what the Patriots are doing with Albert Haynesworth.

      • FireMMNow

        4th round picks are valuable. In the packers case they would be giving that pick up to rent Randy for one year. If he was great like he was in New England it is unlikely that TT would have signed him to a contract that paid him 10 million per season. If he was crap you cut him like the vikes did last year and you lose the pick. Getting a two year deal out of moss was the correct way to go for the packers, he did not take it and that is fine.

        And yeah, Tom Brady was a much better QB than brett favre when the Moss deal was going down, and NEs offense was a much better fit for randy. Randy running quick slants is almost sad to watch. When the Pack did not get moss I was pissed, but thinking back it was probably for the best. But yeah, when i woke up the morning of the second day of the draft and Mortenson is telling everyone that the trade of Moss to the pats was in the works I was more than upset. Prior to the draft it seemed like a complete lock that Moss was coming to Green Bay.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          I agree that 4th round picks are valuable, but so was Randy Moss. Like I wrote in the article, its impossible to know what Moss would have achieved in Green Bay. But if you presume that Moss had probably the best possible season he could ever have in 2007 with the Patriots (and I would say that he did), then if Moss had done half of that with the Packers, is he worth a 4th round pick for one year? 12 touchdowns is probably worth it not to mention the fact that defenses have to account for him first.

  • FireMMNow

    if you have not read brandt’s piece on the moss fiasco you absolutely should read it. It is amazing insight. Brandt was the middle man between favre and TT. great article. i read it in 2010 when he first posted it on NFP, but i read it again. it is rare to get that inside info, especially when someone like TT has the place on lockdown.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I agree it’s maybe one of the most insightful articles written about Thompson. It also shows that maybe Thompson and Bus Cook didn’t have the greatest relationship ever.

  • Mojo

    I think FireMM hit on a good point regarding Randy Moss. What you were getting with Moss was a complete unknown back then. If things were going bad, as they did in Oakland, I could see Moss lying down for the season. At least with Jones you know the effort part will be consistent.

    TarynFor 12s humorous BF TT recreation might also shed some light on TT’s motivations.

  • Elle

    Right, I was gonna say, Brandt has an article on how the Randy Moss thing happened. They tried to acquire him twice, they just weren’t going to give in to Randy’s camp over a few details.

    Also, I highly doubt Rodgers’ remark had much to do with acquiring James Jones. Thompson has said it a dozen times or more. He likes to build from the draft, and he likes to re-sign his own players if at all possible. TT wasn’t going against the grain on this one.

    I wasn’t surprised at all that we kept Jones. Especially at the bargain price we got him at.

  • Hizzzoner

    You have omitted one interesting and important detail. The Patriots traded a 4th round draft pik to get Randy Moss, so the Packers could have had Moss by trading a 3rd round draftr pick to the Raiders. That 3rd round pick turned out to be . . . . James Jones.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Very astute observation, I hadn’t noticed that.

  • Oppy

    I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure the difference is Aaron arrived at his scheduled meeting with Ted at his office at Lambeau to respectfully petition for his WR’s re-signing, while Brett just stayed home and sent Ted a pic of his dong from his smart phone.

    • Oppy

      Sorry if I crossed the good taste/vulgarity line, but I’m actually laughing out loud at myself right now. Couldn’t help it.

  • homerunsimpson

    Have you ever listened to a TT press conference? I think the difference is as simple as Jones was the right price and Randy wasn’t. TT lives by the book, that’s how he operates.

  • Bob

    I think Jones rep for drops was enough to scare other teams away. Anyone else read that Jones said all his drops were same over shoulder pass and he worked entire off-season to eliminate that defect. Glad to have him and his fine family back in GB.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Ironically, Jones’ drop rate apparently isn’t all the different than any of the other receivers, I will concede that when he does drop passes they tend to get remembered cause many of them could have gone for touchdowns or long gains. Some players tend to get remembered for one reason or another, kind of like how Jay Cutler is going to be labeled a quitter for probably the rest of his career; I don’t that’s fair (as he was actually hurt) but that’s just how it goes. Same with Jones, he could not drop a ball this entire season but he’s still going to get labeled as having terrible hands.

  • Shavager

    Big difference between Jones and Moss, JJones’ receiving problems is lack of focus and concentration–aka he CHOKES in prime time and can’t make easy catches. Moss never chokes when it’s prime time, just doesn’t play the rest of the time unless he wants to. Attitude eliminates any potential for Moss to play in GB, McCarthy would not tolerate Moss’ antics on the field.

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