Show Me The Money!: Comparing Donald Driver and James Jones’ Contract All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Donald Driver
Packers WR Donald Driver took a pay cut to stay in Green Bay.

Someone once said “show me the money!”; as we all know, what players and front office men say in public is often not what’s really happening behind closed doors (for instance, we’ll probably never know what the real reason behind the “Favre divorce”).  This is especially true for the Packers, where General Manager Ted Thompson has made it an artform to talk a lot without actually saying anything.  However, one thing that will always be true is the value of a contract (minus all the technical jargon, i.e. Washington Redskins and Donovan McNabb).  Money never lies and it gives us fans a true indication of what the Packers think of Donald Driver and what Donald Driver thinks of the Packers.  Below is the contract that Donald Driver recently signed and how it compares to another Packers wide receiver, James Jones.

  • Contract:
    • James Jones: 3 year contract worth $9.4 million
      • Yearly average: $3.1 million
  • Donald Driver: 1 year contract worth $2.5 million
    • Yearly average: $2.5 million
    • Signing Bonus
      • James Jones: $1.5 million
        • Yearly average: $500,000
  • Donald Driver: $500,000
    • Yearly average: $500,000
    • 2012 Base Salary
      • James Jones: $2.3 million
      • Donald Driver: $2 million

I would argue that on a yearly basis, Jones’ and Driver’s contracts are essentially identical.  Obviously Jones has a little more security with 3-year deal (and more guaranteed money), but considering Driver is nearly a decade older than Jones, it’s a pretty good sign for Driver and a pretty bad sign for Jones.

What this means for James Jones: This is pretty bad news for the Jones camp because essentially what it says is that Jones (at age 28) is essentially worth the same as Driver (age 37), who is nearly a decade older. Based purely on the contract that Jones and Driver have signed, I think it’s unlikely that Jones finds any suitors for the Packers to trade with.  For one thing, while Jones rebounded somewhat last season in terms of drops (which was the biggest issue in 2010), he didn’t really distinguish himself in any meaningful regard in 2011, so what rationale outside of injuries would a team not sign Jones when he was a free agent last year (and therefore not cost any picks) but now want to trade for him?  My current opinion is that the NFL believes Jones’ production is more a product of Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings/Jordy Nelson/Jermichael Finley and the Packers pass first offense rather than his own talent.  I will say that I’m on the fence on how good Jones truly is, but it would seem that the NFL has already decided that it’s mostly the Packers offense and Aaron Rodgers.

What this means for Donald Driver: Driver’s contract is actually probably more than he should have expected especially when compared to Jones’ contract, who is considerably younger and therefore presumably is more valuable for team like the Packers who don’t usually put much value in “veteran presence”.  I also don’t feel like the Packers considered things outside football when negotiating with Driver, such as avoiding another “Brett Favre divorce”, caving into public sentiment, merchandizing options in the future or just because the front office was getting sentimental.  I would assume just from the size of the contract that the Packers still think Driver can contribute significantly this year; if things play out in Driver’s favor he could be as high as the 3rd wide receiver, apparently the Packers are willing to pay Driver as much as Jones (and therefore think they both can have roughly the same production), and who knows how Randall Cobb will develop (or maybe the Packers decide to focus Cobb solely as a returner).  Finally, my feeling is that Driver probably favors the Packers but would probably play elsewhere if that feeling wasn’t reciprocated; it will be interesting to see if what the Packers do if Driver has a worse season than last year, will Driver admit his time is up or will the Packers have another messy divorce on their hands (Driver has stated he wants to play at least a couple more years)

What this means for Diondre Biorel, Tori Gurley, Shaky Smithson, Dale Moss etc.: Chances are pretty good that Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Driver and Cobb are all going to be on the team, so chances are low that one more wide receiver can make the team.  Drivers’ restructured contract also makes it considerably harder for any other wide receiver to take his spot on the roster.  The Packers however have been known for some pretty odd roster breakdowns, like having 3 fullbacks in 2010 and 5 tight ends in 2011, so having 6 wide receivers wouldn’t be all that unusual.  The Packers’ strategy is likely to keep the best 53 players, so even if they are short a tight end or running back to account for an extra wide receiver, they would probably do it.

Overall, a very interesting move by the Packers and Donald Driver, maybe fans shouldn’t be so quick to write Driver off and shouldn’t be so quick to send James Jones to the trading block.


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


25 thoughts on “Show Me The Money!: Comparing Donald Driver and James Jones’ Contract

  1. It looks like the Packers just intend to keep the status quo in 2012. I can’t argue with that based on the results last season, and I see no reason to believe Driver’s finished, even if he’s not the player he was a few years ago. Driver’s contract was based on being a starter, and they just lowered it to reflect his backup status.

    1. Nothing wrong with keeping the status quo in terms of the offense, but one thing the team needs to consider is will Driver negatively impact the development of younger wide receivers. Obviously not Driver as a person as by all accounts he’s a pretty nice guy, but Driver will take snaps away from players and more likely than not force the 6th wide receiver onto the inactive list.

  2. The revised contract makes it possible for GB to have this situation settled before the start of the season. GB will keep their best six wide recievers and by then, we will know who these players will be.

    1. I wouldn’t be so quick to write a 6th wide receiver in, for one thing what position would you take that spot from? If the 5th tight end is better than the 6th wide receiver, they’ll probably go with more tight ends again. I also have a sinking suspicion that they’ll keep one more defensive linemen this year as well, so you got to factor in where that spot comes in as well (they can’t all be stealing spots from the tight ends)

  3. Jones’ contract is a reflect of his play. If he outplays his contract, either the Packers or someone else will pay him accordingly. If not, he’ll play it out.

    It seems to me that both are pretty good contracts for #4 and #5 WRs…

    1. I’m not sure Jones has much leverage in his position. If he turns in a year like Jordy Nelson did last year, he could ask for a raise or a trade, but really the Packers don’t have to oblige. Jones’ contract isn’t that huge, so they can wait him out (while fining him) and he’s not so important that they can’t find another player to cover for him. So really the Packers are holding all the cards (and Jones probably knows this), even if Jones has a stellar season he’ll probably still have to play out his contract (also keep in mind that Greg Jennings needs a new contract soon as well)

      1. The Packers already tried to trade him, reportedly. If he turns in a year like Nelson, teams will offer enough, he will be traded, exactly because of the cap situation and the expiring contracts, and thus will get a new contract. That was my point.

        1. If someone gives the Packers they can’t refuse, then Jones gets traded; but as you’ve pointed out they’ve already tried and apparently didn’t get any takers or didn’t get enough compensation. If Jones plays similar to what he has in previous years, I’m not sure his play is going to attract enough teams.

          1. That’s why I conditioned his pay raise to a significant production in 2012.

    1. Potentially a huge bargain, if Nelson can repeat what he did in the 2011 season. I have to applaud Ted Thompson and Russ Ball for resigning Nelson right before he exploded on the field, probably a lot of luck but also very good timing.

  4. I think comparing DD’s and JJ’s contracts means squadouche. JJ got caught in the lockout fiasco and some teams think he’s a systems player so he signed for what he signed. DD took a 50% paycut actually alot more if you go by guaranteed money.

    Let’s not forget Jennings contract is up and will be asking for upwards of 4 yrs/$50M. JJ’s stock could go way up if TT does a tag and trade for Jennings and DD retires.

    1. Would you pay the same money for an inferior product? The Packers don’t want to either, so I would argue that what Jones and Driver are making does mean a lot. As for tag and trading Jennings, I can’t imagine the Packers doing that unless negotiations go really really bad. Also who knows if Jones will really do all that much in 2012; maybe Randall Cobb or the legendary “6th wide receiver” shows up big.

      1. What JJ and DD make matters but each contract stands alone. I see no “get” in comparing them. TT signed both by choice in the last year so he’s okay w/ the numbers.

        GJ’s situation is more than whether the negotiations break down. He’ll be asking for approx 4yrs/$50M w/ $25-30M guaranteed as he turns 30. I’m not saying he’s not worth it or can’t produce in his 30’s but there are other factors (AR, CM3, Raji’s et al contracts, the deveolopment of the young WR’s, etc). Maybe TT tags and plays him for a year or two. Or as I said tags and trades him. Jerry Jones gave up a 1st, 3rd, and 6th for Roy Williams and a 7th so you never know what may happen.

        1. Players and teams always compare contracts. I’m sure Drew Brees is arguing that he’s better than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and therefore should be paid more than either. On the flip side the Saints might say that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are better players and thus Brees should be paid less. Again, would you pay more for an inferior product? You wouldn’t and neither would the Packers.

          As for Jennings, if Jennings wants to play for the Packers, and the Packers want him back, I can’t imagine that they won’t find the space to keep him. Jennings is getting on the older side, but hopefully he’ll still be productive for one more contract. I also would expect some crazy trade from the Cowboys, they can’t be insane all the time.

  5. The messy divorce senario being repeated could have been totally erased when the opportunity was ripe to let Driver go after the seasons end.
    The fans,coaches,Org were down and Driver actually held the door open when asked if he would be back and said what he said.The majority felt DD was and should be gone and expected as much right up until…DWTS.Tip the hat for a beautifully played hand by DD and his agent.
    Now,we may possibly lose talent from the young guys and then the JJ factor rises,when IMO,would have done more if Driver was played less last year.For the stat gurus,Jones numbers were better than DDs and keeping DD is inhibiting JJ not through play but the false face value of DD.
    It was only two years ago that many wanted Nelson gone for the play of JJ and now the play of DD is wanted over JJ.
    WOW…I suffer mood swings for a reason need not be discussed but,this is beyond reason,unless we all…impossible.
    Last,if the Packers offered DD $1 million period and he refused,which side of the fence are you on.
    IMO,thats what he should have been offered.

    1. I guess the question becomes how much do you think public sentiment goes into Ted Thompson decisions? I would think that it’s basically nothing; Thompson has jettisoned off his fair share of popular players (Rivera, Sharper, Favre etc), and it doesn’t seem like he would change that just for Driver.

      If Driver had been offered $1 million, I’d probably be on his side; the veteran minimum for someone as vested as Driver is probably around $800,000. What I think would have been fair is a $2 million dollar contract with lots of incentives.

  6. We all have short memories… Giants playoff game who is the only receiver that catches the ball- Donald Driver, so shall we throw him to the wolves? Time and time again James Jones and Jermichael Finley drop ball after ball and then run their mouths off. I will take the sure thing and that is Donald Driver……

    1. To qualify as being a short memory,it would have to allow for a time frame of at least 10 seconds to pass without it being used or mentioned in every possible eroneous way to justify it to even matter,which it doesn’t.
      Is this the first time he caught passes and others dropped them in a game and a lost one at that.
      The DD issue is more than that,I hope.

    2. James Jones is a pretty quiet dude usually, I don’t recall him mouthing off. As for Finley, he mouths off regardless of catching or dropping the ball, so it’s just him. Short memory would also dictate that we forget that Driver had one of the worst seasons if his career and was pretty banged up at times too.

    3. as reported by others, James Jones’ dropped pass percentage was actually LOWER than Donald Driver’s in 2011.

      Just sayin’.

    4. Double D is everything #4 wasnt a positive force in the locker room team not I focussed and a big contributer to the community the total GB PACKage

      1. That’s a pretty combative statement there, you have to admit that if Favre didn’t throw the ball to Driver, it’s likely Driver wouldn’t have lasted past his first contract.

        1. Thomas, I didn’t see where Mike McDade mentioned anything about performance on the field.

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