James Jones. Brian Jopek photograph

James Jones: Could a return to the Green Bay Packers still be possible?

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As the entire NFL planet heads into the opening of the official NFL Free Agency signing period today, the feeding frenzy over landing big-name players is on … and this year it could involve the Green Bay Packers.

At least one of those Packers players who might be fought over will be wide receiver James Jones.

Here’s what Longtime NFL Draft Analyst & Publisher of DraftInsider.net tweeted early this morning:

 

Jones has said he would like to stay in Green Bay, like all good free agents are supposed to say. Of course the free agent wants to stay put, but like all free agents, Jones also said his first priority is to take care of his family.

That translates into “pay me.”

It appears NFC North Division rival Detroit Lions have a bead on Jones … can you imagine seeing him lining up on the other side of Calvin Johnson? That wouldn’t be a good situation for defenses such as the Packers. The New York Jets are also said to be trying to land Jones.

But Jones isn’t the only free agent the Packers must either pay or watch walk … of most concern this morning is center Evan Dietrich-Smith, the anchor of the Packers offensive line. Though it’s a deep and versatile line, having EDS back would certainly stabilize the wall in front of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

In addition to those guys, the Packers are also in danger of losing the likes of little-talked-about OLB Mike Neal. Having made the transition to outside linebacker last season from defensive end, Neal showed steady improvement and hits the market today as a viable prospect. Though he’s had injury issues, there is promise with this guy and there may be other teams out there willing to take a chance. There’s been no talk from Green Bay on the Neal situation. Today we will find out.

Other players hitting the market today of particular interest are James Starks, John Kuhn, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Pickett, Andrew Quarless, Matt Flynn, Robert Francois, Johnny Jolly and C.J. Wilson.

Jamari Lattimore is a restricted free agent who appears ready to test the waters.

The Packers have shown interest in signing defensive linemen Lamarr Houston and Arthur Jones, but that seems to have cooled over the past day as the teams most mentioned with signing those two were the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, respectively.

Are the Packers showing us smoke and mirrors leading up to the signing period, helping to raise the ante on prospective players and then backing away? I doubt that to be the case, but Ted Thompson has done stranger things.

What will today bring? Well, we know the dollar figures and player movements are going to be flying across the league.

Will the Packers be a part of the melee?

We’re hoping the Packers have a shot at landing a few of the guys already in house. We would like to see Starks and Kuhn, Pickett and Flynn, Lattimore, and possibly Pickett back in Green Bay.

Surely we would like to see EDS, Jones and Neal also back in Green and Gold, but understand there’s only so much to go around. Realistically, if the Packers can fill one defensive line position through free agency, it would go a long way in providing much more freedom when it comes to the draft.

Hang on for the ride today. It’s going to be a bumpy one as we say goodbye to many of our favorite players.

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