If Brad Jones Leaves, Packers Affected More Than You Think

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Jones has garnered much interest in free agency.  If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers
Jones has garnered much interest in free agency. If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers

With free agency somewhat underway in that teams are free to contact players’ agents to discuss a deal, much of the talk in Green Bay has centered around wide receiver Greg Jennings.  Jennings is unquestionably the marquis name out of Green Bay that has very solid potential to be wearing a different uniform this next season.  He has even been debated as the top free agent receiver on the market with Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace the other half of that conversation.

But lost in the shuffle are some of the other free-agents-to-be in Green Bay, one of which is linebacker Brad Jones.  According to a piece published by Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel, at least eight other teams have already contacted Jones’ agent.

Jones filled in for the injured DJ Smith in week six last season and remained the starter for the balance of the season.  He did an adequate job in that role and gained some valuable playing time in the defense.  With 2012 being Jones’ fourth in the team’s defensive scheme and with his contributions on special teams, Jones has become a stronger veteran presence on this roster.

Now I’m not saying that Jones is a “must sign”.  If eight teams have already expressed interest, he will surely have some options to choose from, outside of Green Bay, when Tuesday rolls around.  As a reminder, Tuesday is the first day that free agent deals can be finalized.  But in possibly losing Jones, it does change the perspective of what the Packers may do in the draft and in free agency.

Many of you will recall that the Packers are hoping to get solid veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop and third year backer DJ Smith back in 2013.  While there is a good chance that both will return, it is not a given.

Bishop needed to have his hamstring re-attached to the bone.  He has been rehabbing the injury and has expressed his readiness when camp opens this summer, but that is going to be left up to the medical staff.  My guess is that Bishop will be on a snap count initially and so therefore is a bit of a question mark.

Smith missed the last 10 games with an ACL injury.  That the injury occurred in mid-October means that it’s all but certain that Smith will be ready by the time camp opens.  Yes, some players have returned from this injury quickly, but we’re not at the point where we can expect Smith to be one of those players.  My guess is that he will be given every opportunity to practice in camp and if he cannot, he will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Now imagine that the worst-case scenarios play out with Bishop and Smith and they are at least delayed in joining the active roster.  If Jones leaves via free agency, a position that seemed one of the deepest now becomes one of need.

Now let’s say the Packers also decide that they need to part ways with AJ Hawk and his lofty contract.  That leaves Terrell Manning, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore and Micah Johnson.  Before that thought becomes too terrifying, I would say the Packers find a way to keep Hawk if all of the above do happen.  But in doing so, Hawk will likely have the bargaining power to tell the team that he won’t restructure his current deal.

Yes, they can try to address this potential need early in next month’s draft, but do you really want to hinge the success of an entire unit on a rookie that was taken late in the first round?  We talked about the linebackers in a recent podcast and looked at draft prospects.  Kevin Minter out of LSU is a clear top choice at this position.  He may be there when Green Bay picks late in the first round, but it’s not very likely.  From there, names like Manti Te’o, Kiko Alonso, and Jon Bostic may be available but none of those players are expected to step in and be immediate starters in the NFL.  There are also still many questions about whether any of those mentioned would even be the best choice for the Packers to make at that point.

In free agency, there aren’t many names out there who can likely make an immediate impact.  Among those listed are Daryl Smith, Erin Henderson, Leroy Hill, Kaluka Maiava, former Packer Nick Barnett and Brian Urlacher, who will likely remain in Chicago.  Not necessarily a list of saviors, if you ask me.  One of them could prove valuable, but none are a sure-fire choice.

More will likely develop in the next few days and it has yet to emerge whether the Packers plan to be players for Jones in 2013 and beyond.  While not a major impact player in 2012, Jones’ status has the potential to have a huge impact in the Packers offseason roster moves.  Things just got a bit more interesting.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    Well what did they think was going to happen? Jones was our best middle LB last year. Thompson should have been trying to add at least a few years last year knowing that the injury Bishop suffered is brutal to come back from. I mean the muscle is completely detached from the bone! Not easy to come back from, ask Tommie Harris. Jones should have been taken care of last season.

    • Stroh

      You act like this wasn’t even something the Packers considered before FA started. Give the Front office a little credit for Gods sake. Jones is a damn good backup, but a backup nonetheless. I wouldn’t doubt that the Packers told him they want him and to be in contact regarding the numbers he’s hearing.

  • Ron LC

    The ugly head of the “Cap” rises in this case. Options are limited and TT doesn’t like over paying (in his mind). Let’s just hope Silversiten pulled those 8 teams out of Mc Ginn’s imaginary sources butts.

    Seriously, I think Jones played as well as any ILB last year and I’d cut Hawk to pay him. That will never happen so it looks like Jones will be playing elsewhere this season. Let’s hope it’s not in the NFC North.

  • FITZCORE1252

    Looks like Hawk isn’t going anywhere. Is Jones unrestricted?

    GBP 4 LIFE

    • BubbaOne

      Yes

  • BubbaOne

    Too bad the Packers miscast him the first 3 years. MM admitted the coaching staff made a mistake thinking Jones could play well w/ added weight at OLB. He couldn’t so they moved him inside last season and he had his best season. I wonder how good he could be if he started his career inside.

    Last year w/ DJ starting, opposing OC’s had the chance to scheme against him and show his limitations. W/ all the Q’s at ILB would really like to have Jones back in the fold.

  • Stroh

    I’m sure the Packers considered all the eventualities about the other ILB before letting Jones even get to FA. Jones is a good player and I would like to have him return, but if he doesn’t the D will be fine. The Packers have till after June 1 to know all details on the return of Bishop. He’s really the only big ?? in this. Smith will return but even if he does he’s down the depth chart.

    I think the Packers probably went to Jones and told him they want him, and to get back to them w/ the numbers he’s hearing for a contract. I really think Manning will outplay Jones anyway.

    Its a bit of an uncomfortable situation to be in, but certainly not one to have to much angst about. Its just life in the NFL in a salary cap era.

  • FITZCORE1252

    LMAO! I got a dislike for that… Awesome!

    • Oppy

      Not too long ago, I got a thumbs down for asking what Worthy’s injury was.

      It’s exhilarating, isn’t it?

      • Two Bears, One Cup

        Imma.fubared/Cow42 is probably here. He’s voted but has to have his mother check his grammar before his post appears.
        My guess is that it will be about how much better the Vikings have been at re-signing guys named Jones.

    • Wagszilla

      Thumbs up for not being a douche!

  • Oppy

    Bubba, Jones did play just fine as an OLB in his rookie season.. Actually pretty darn good for a rookie who was never supposed to see the field his first year.

    Jones is an overgrown kid- his enthusiasm for the game of football as a game, not as a business, is visceral and contagious. He’s a genius with degrees in Astrophysics- a bonafide rocket scientist- so the NFL isn’t his only meal ticket… He’s playing football because he loves it, it’s not just his meal ticket, he’ll make plenty of loot after he retires in the real world..

    I guess what I’m saying is, he loves football and he seems to love Green Bay. He’s definitely one of the infamous “Packer People”, and he doesn’t necessarily only see football as a means to see dollar signs.

    He’s also exactly the kind of LB that reminds Ted Thompson of his own career- not a superstar at all, just a good, reliable LB who does his job well and will get out on the field on whatever phase you ask him to, not because he’s just trying to stay on the roster, but because he loves to play football.

    My gut says the Packers sign him to a reasonable contract and neither side in the negotiations bats an eye, it’ll be a painless deal for both.

    • Big O

      Oppy I hope your right but having as they said what 8 teams looking at him and of course an AGENT well,,,, I hope your right

      • Oppy

        Hey, all a player has to do is tell his agent ‘You work for me. Get it done and take the percentage, or I’ll find an agent that will.’

        • BubbaOne

          Yes, Jones did play well his rookie year but instead of making the jump forward in year two his play waned in years two and three. MM said they miscast Jones and his better position is inside. How good he could be if he played all four years at ILB we’ll never know.

  • Wagszilla

    Jones is too slow and rigid and Smith is undersized.

    Maybe, just maybe, both can stay healthy next year and we can see some different personnel packages.

    Then again keeping people healthy is probably way too much to ask of the Strength and Conditioning Coaches.