James Jones, though a valuable Packer, will be given the opportunity to walk in free agency. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

James Jones should be Packers #1 signing target

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James Jones was a touchdown machine for the Green Bay Packers last season and set himself up for huge production in 2013. His 14 touchdowns in 2012 not only places him at the top statistically in the target/touchdown ratio, but it also has him poised to push Jordy Nelson as the team’s best receiver.

That’s why the Packers should have him squarely in the crosshairs of most important players to get under contract.

This past offseason, all the focus and talk about re-signings was on Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, with the next man up being B.J. Raji. But when the Packers announced a few weeks back that they were not seeking an immediate contract with Raji – opting to instead let him play for his pay – it became pretty clear that the team had signed the players they thought would best position them for the long run – Rodgers and Matthews.

So if Raji has been ratcheted down a notch, the next most important player – and the player who should leapfrog Raji in the race for the cash – is Jones. He not only stepped up his production when Greg Jennings went down and Donald Driver went away from the lineup last season, but he did it in such a dramatic way that he made the rest of the league look like fools for not having signed him when he was a free agent a couple of seasons ago.

Instead, Jones came limping back to the Packers to sign a three year deal that made them look like geniuses. In the past two years Jones hasn’t missed a game. In 2011, he caught 38 passes for 635 yards and 7 touchdowns. Last year he doubled his touchdown output while pulling in 64 passes for 784 yards.

The Packers shouldn’t allow James Jones to slip away in free agency.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Now he enters the third and final year of his contract. It’s time for the Packers to try to lock him up. If they don’t, he will definitely walk. If he has another highly productive season he will will qualify for  a bank-breaking deal that the Packers will surely not want to pay. However, if they extend his contract before he gets to that point, it might be the best move the Packers could make.

And with the team sitting nearly $17 million under the salary cap, this might be the time to look at an extension for Jones.

The Packers will lose some players next year. In fact, there will be nearly 20 players who will be free agents come next February. One of those players will be Jones. Raji is also included in that group. But if there’s one player who has shown his value, it’s Jones.

Will the Packers look at retaining his services and signing him long-term?

What do you think, Packers fans? Will Ted Thompson and company make the move or let him walk?

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Tags: B.J. Raji Free Agency Green Bay Packers James Jones Jordy Nelson

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