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Did the Market Make Datone Jones a Crucial Free Agent?

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Did the Market Make Datone Jones a Crucial Free Agent?

The Green Bay Packers are going to have to make some difficult decisions in the coming weeks. Despite what general manger Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy say publicly, the team will more than likely be forced to split from at least one of their unrestricted draft picks due to high price tags aided by a slim market. One of those unrestricted free agents, perhaps the one who has been discussed the most recently, is outside linebacker Nick Perry, who will likely command a hefty deal that the Packers may not be prepared to match. Throw in aged veteran Julius Peppers (also unrestricted) and Jayrone Elliott (restricted) and the team starts to look incredibly thin at a position many already view as a concern.

That’s not all, though – Green Bay also risks losing Datone Jones, the third longest-tenured player at the position behind Perry and Clay Matthews. All told, the Packers could see four players from the same position group lost to free agency. While it certainly isn’t likely all four will find new homes, it is starting to look more and more like Perry, the most productive of the bunch in 2016, won’t be wearing a G on his helmet in 2017.

So then, is it fair to wonder if the outside linebacker market just made Datone Jones Green Bay’s most crucial priority?

In four seasons with the team, Jones has recorded 73 tackles, including nine sacks, in 59 regular season games. Not exactly earth-shattering numbers, to be sure, and Jones has been viewed by many as a powder keg of potential that hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities to explode. What he can offer the Packers, however, is four years of experience under Dom Capers.

Excluding Matthews, the other three outside linebackers currently under contract – Elliott, Kyler Fackrell and Joe Thomas – have a combined six years of NFL experience. While Thomas has flashed at times, his skill set serves him better in the open field and in coverage that it does getting to the quarterback. The most notable play of Fackrell’s season was one in which he ran onto the field late and proceeded to be thrown like a ragdoll.

It seems likely the Packers will target an edge player or two in the Draft, but no one can predict whether a rookie could have a the profound impact it would take to fix the Packers’ pass rushing woes. Clay Matthews, already deemed dispensable by some, isn’t getting any younger and has seen a decline in production. As a restricted free agent, Elliott will probably be tendered by Green Bay, though his production hasn’t exactly stunned either.

The Packers could use a young veteran like Jones who, in all likelihood, can be had in free agency for a relatively low cost. Obviously, the chance still exists that Perry could return, but Green Bay will need a little insurance if he doesn’t. They took a chance on Perry with a one-year deal last year, and he delivered. They would be wise to offer the same kind of deal to Jones and see if they can’t ignite that powder keg.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

slit's picture

Datone = JAG. Small one/two year deal (3-5 mil max) or no thanks.

dobber's picture

Jones is more valuable to the Packers than to anyone else. I sense a one-year deal akin to what Perry signed last spring, too.

slit's picture

Is he? He looks like 4-3 D-End to me.

dobber's picture

I think desperation will force the Packers hand. They need the live bodies at OLB and he qualifies on that count.

Nick Perry's picture

The Packers OLB position is SO BAD at the moment Datone Jones, drafted to be a 5 Tech might become a "Vital" signing for the Packers to play OLB. Nevermind he doesn't play either position particularly well. You CAN however always count on him for a stupid penalty.

dobber's picture

If Perry gets away, he's about the only OLB option they have left who can somewhat set the edge.

Razor's picture

Good points NP.

I say they should draft 5-6 linebackers and 5-6 cornerbacks - keep it simple.

Then find whatever else they need in the UDFAs.

And sign Datone to a beat-down contract then trade him to Cleveland.

Nick Perry's picture

LOL... You think if we picked THAT many CB's & OLB's we'd be able to at least cover the middle of the field??

Thegreatreynoldo's picture


Allan Murphy's picture

Elliott i disagree we need back ups and he is above avarge player as rookie he had most sacks for a rookie in the nfl 6 rember Cheese save me here ?

Bert's picture

Ugh!! Hate think we lose Perry and the best we can come up with is D. Jones. I'm guessing Ted has a better plan than letting Perry go and counting on Jones to replace his production.

dobber's picture

I think we all know that TT isn't ready to give up on him, yet.

BELIEVER's picture

That was the worst Packer defense I can remember. Let em go, can't do any worst. Get players that want to play. So Perry has a good year, what about all the other crap years he had the same goes for Jones. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck.........

Spock's picture

If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck.........
it's a platypus??

Lphill's picture

Let Perry and jones go and sign Donte Hightower .

dobber's picture

Donte Hightower who found his way into BB's doghouse enough to be a healthy scratch and have his dedication and conditioning challenged? He's on the street for a reason...

stockholder's picture

I would sign Datone Jones. Give him 2 years 5 mil a year. Sign him before the patriots or lions do.

Bert's picture

Ideal to resign Perry, sign Barwin and move Clay inside. I see some highly rated edge rushers (Takk, Williams) possibly available around #29 to build for the future. I'm not crazy about either Jones or Hightower and would rather keep Perry than see either of the two.

Bert's picture

Ok. Just saw that Tim Williams admitted to "multiple" failed drug tests at Alabama. Great.

stockholder's picture

Also a gun. Not TTs MO. Look for mckinley, McCafferey, Jackson.

Razor's picture

When you give players at least three years to prove that they aren't that good, pretty soon you have a locker room full of them. Then its OMG what should we do!

I know, we should keep some of them one more year!

I have an idea. Use half of your draft picks on linebackers and half on cornerbacks. Play a triple-nickel defense - cool.

Rossonero's picture

Jones is only worth a 1 year prove it deal, nothing more. He's done nothing to earn a long term deal and he knows it.

Perry is the one we must sign. Despite his frustrating start to his career, he's actually an impact player with production once he got his hand back in the dirt and not playing OLB.

Donster's picture

One year at the most. No signing bonus. Use the money towards a FA like Hightower or Bardwin. Draft the same position too. If losing a so far one year wonder in Perry is causing you to feel you HAVE to re-sign Jones, then that is further proof that TT's draft and develop every friggin' year without signing well established FA's has killed the Packers chances of winning SB's in the past number of years and WILL continue to do so. They have to get Matthews to restructure his contract and move him inside, or trade him. Cut him if you have to. Same with Cobb. Though I feel Cobb is still very good, he isn't worth what he is being paid when you have people behind him that can play just as well. I would try to trade him for defensive help too. We all know the problem with the Packers is above all else the DEFENSE. Get it fixed. The defense has continues to erode slowly for the past four years or so. TT made an impact by signing Peppers, and it worked out well. Belichick brings in older FA's on both sides of the ball and gets a few years out of them. TT can do it to if he just would.

dobber's picture

Connor Barwin has not yet been cut and it isn't a sure thing that he will be.

Razor's picture

Yes, keep him one more year. I'm sure he will have a breakout season!

Doesn't it seem just a little bit desperate to hold on to a player who may or may not improve in only his 4th season.

Here's the thinking: He might do better next year plus after three seasons we know what we have in this player plus who knows what is out there to replace him. We might even do worse! Yes, we should definitely keep him and give him a decent contract so that we set an example for all our players to see.

Whew - I have a headache and now I have to go out and find that rare player who is an oversized linebacker that we can turn into a tight end.

lou's picture

The only thing certain is that if they do sign Datone Jones the reporters can just change a few paragraphs in the annual "Datone Jones Ready To Bust Out" stories from every major Wisconsin press outlet and call it an early day at the office. If they need a rotational player and the money fits he probably will be back.

Bearmeat's picture

As bad as our CBs were last year, at least there is some potential for growth with the guys we have there. OLB is a straight up dumpster fire with no relief in sight.

CM3 - Not a difference maker. Overpaid. Average. Oft injured.

Perry - As good as gone and if we keep him, he'll be making too much. Not worth premiere coin.

Peppers - Done.

Jones - A miscast 43 DE from the beginning. Pass.

Fackrell - Needs to add strength. Sadly, him growing may be our best bet in 2017.

Elliot - He is the Jeff Janis of defense. All the tools. Never gonna get it.

Our favorite teams defensive player acquisition and their ability to groom the young guys to be future stars is laughably bad.

Razor's picture

Bearmeat - love your assessment - short, sweet and on-point. Thanks

Since '61's picture

Jones can go. He has given us almost nothing since he was drafted. His experience has not translated to him making plays so it's not helping the defense. With the compensatory pick we have 8 picks. Draft 3 CBs, 3 OLBs and 2 RBs. Sign a FA CB and an FA pass rusher and go from there. Let Perry, Jones, and Lacy go. We won't be any worse off. Thanks, Since '61

sam708's picture

Perhaps put more trust into him, and he will break through. Jones is very valuable. Good writers, easy to find essays here

MeganeBradly's picture

That's not a topic for discussion.

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