2014 free-agent countdown
20. Chris Banjo, safety (re-signed Feb. 26)
19. Seneca Wallace, quarterback
18. Kahlil Bell, running back
17. Robert Francois, inside linebacker
16. Marshall Newhouse, offensive lineman
15. C.J. Wilson, defensive lineman
14. M.D. Jennings, safety
13. Jamari Lattimore, inside linebacker
12. Johnny Jolly, defensive line
11. Matt Flynn, quarterback
10. Andrew Quarless, tight end
9. James Starks, running back
8. Ryan Pickett, defensive line
7. Jermichael Finley, tight end
6. Mike Neal, outside linebacker/defensive line
5. John Kuhn, fullback
4. James Jones, wide receiver
James Jones put a lot on the line for the Green Bay Packers last season.
The seventh-year receiver battled persistent knee problems, broke two ribs against Pittsburgh in Week 16 and still managed to have a career-high 813 receiving yards despite missing two games.
Jones now faces a situation opposite of the one he entered into following the Packers’ Super Bowl victory in February 2011. For the second time, he’s an unrestricted free agent. While his production is more proven this time around, he’s no longer 27.
So what will his market be?
Jones, who'll turn 30 next month, is perhaps the sixth- or seventh-best receiver on the market this offseason when you consider age vs. past production.
With the Packers needing to lock up Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the next year, it might be difficult to shell out another three-year, $9.6 million deal like they did after Jones met a lukewarm market three years ago.
Second-year receiver Jarrett Boykin's rise up the Packers’ depth chart gives the team options. Criticized coming out of Virginia Tech for a 4.71-second time in the 40-yard dash, the 24-year-old Boykin had 49 catches for 681 yards in three touchdowns in the final 12 games of the season.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week that he hopes to have Jones back, but it might not be possible unless the market proves quiet for the 30-year-old receiver.
“James Jones, Jermichael Finley, we’d love to have those guys back,” McCarthy said at last week’s NFL scouting combine. “We’d like to build off some of the things we were able to do last year and be better than we’ve ever been. With Aaron (Rodgers) being our quarterback and our offensive line, if you look at our depth chart right now this is the best group of offensive linemen from a depth standpoint that we’ve had in my time in Green Bay. There’s a lot of good things to build off of with our offense.”
Throughout the course of his stint in Green Bay, Jones overcame his issues with drops to become a reliable outside option for Rodgers over the past three years.
A respected voice in the locker room, Jones and kicker Mason Crosby are the last holdovers from the 2007 NFL draft.
Depending on how the offseason unfolds, the locker room could be short one more veteran voice in 2014.
Editor's note: Before the start of the new league year in March, Press-Gazette Media is counting down the top 20 unrestricted, restricted and exclusive right free agents the Green Bay Packers will have to decide on this offseason.
No. 4 James Jones, seventh-year receiver
The skinny: Unrestricted free agent.
The snaps: 848 total (846 offense, 2 special teams).
The stats: 59 catches for 817 yards and three touchdowns.
The 2013 salary: $3,250,000.