The best indicator of what a player should expect in free agency is a similarly positioned player with comparable skill/production.
While there isn't a perfect comp for Packers wideout James Jones, Riley Cooper and his five-year, $25 million extension with the Eagles might offer a glimpse into the future for the free agent receiver.
Greg Bedard of Sports Illustrated and theMMQB.com recently released his list of the top 100 free agents. Riley Cooper came in at 55 with Jones finishing ahead at 53. In his notes, Bedard described neither as number one receivers, an argument most will agree with.
The statistics back up the comparison. Like Jones, Cooper lines up primarily on the outside (both played under 20% of their snaps in the slot). Both had similar production last year as well; Cooper caught 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns while Jones hauled in 59 passes for 817 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper's higher touchdown total stands out, but it was only a year ago that Jones led the NFL in that statistic with 14.
At 29 years old (30 in March), Jones' next contract won't approach the length of Cooper's. However, the $5 million average salary isn't necessarily out of reach for Jones. Early speculation suggested that incoming receiver draft class would deflate the market for veterans like Jones, but the same could have been said for Cooper, and the Eagles felt it pertinent to lock him up before hitting the open market. It's possible that the demand for veteran wideouts has been underestimated.
Perhaps that's why the Packers reportedly plan to let Jones walk this spring. With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb both due significant raises before the end of 2014, Green Bay GM Ted Thompson will hesitate to invest significant money in Jones. If the market dictates that he be paid close to Cooper's new average salary, Jones indeed won't return to Green Bay in 2014.