Yesterday I said I'd be happy with 3-year, $10 million contract for Brad Jones. It looks like the deal he actually signed will come in a little bit above that, according to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times:
Packers re-signed LB Brad Jones to 3-year deal worth $11.75 million, including $3 million to sign with possible Pro Bowl escalators.— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) March 22, 2013
That's a little more than I was expecting, but it's still a smaller contract in every way (other than the signing bonus) than what the Indianapolis Colts gave to Erik Walden, and we all know that Jones actually played good football throughout most of the 2012 season. This could potentially break down to a relatively small base salary in 2012, depending on Ted Thompson's preferred method of splitting up the contract. If he chooses to break with his usual M.O. and backload the contract, it's possible Jones could pose a salary cap hit of only around $2 million in 2013.
Let's look at some of the other contracts given to inside linebackers this off-season to put Jones' in context. Dannell Ellerbe, formerly a Baltimore Raven, signed with the Miami Dolphins for an absurd 5 years and $34.75 million (that's nearly $7 million per year, if you're counting). He was okay filling in for Ray Lewis in 2012, but that contract certainly comes as a shock to me. Rey Maualuga of the Cincinnati Bengals re-signed for two years and $6.5 million ($3.25 per season). With those contracts and Walden's in mind, bringing Jones back for less than $4 million per season seems more reasonable, and it appears clear that the Packers plan to give Jones every opportunity to earn a starting spot.
We'll have more on how the signing affects the team's plans at the position and in the draft later today.