It seems that every time James Jones is a team leader, he gets let go.
In the wake of Jordy Nelson’s ACL tear last year, the former Green Bay Packers draft pick returned to the place where his NFL career started. Jones ended up leading the Packers in receiving yards with 890, and set a career-high in yards per reception with 17.9.
However, Jones appears to be forced to look for a job outside of Green Bay once again this season, and the receiver keeps getting surprised by his constant job hunt. He was interviewed by the Green Bay Press-Gazette this weekend, and joked about his frustration:
I lead the Raiders in every category and get released. I lead the Giants in every category in the preseason and get released. I lead the Packers in a couple categories and they want to go younger.
Without Jones, the Packers have seven wide receivers who are likely to be worthy of a roster spot in 2016 based on some combination of past production, pure talent and potential, or draft capital. Add in a few undrafted youngsters who could surprise with a good training camp and it’s clear to see that the position battle in camp will be a hard-fought one even without Jones in town.
Furthermore, while Jones did lead the team in receiving yards last season, he barely caught 50% of the passes thrown his way (50 receptions on 99 targets), the lowest mark on the team for players with at least one target per game.
If circumstances change, however, Jones said that he would “100 percent” be happy to return to Green Bay, and clearly holds no grudge against the organization for moving on from him for a second time. In the meantime, Jones said two weeks ago that he might be interested in playing for the San Francisco 49ers. That spot would be attractive for him for a couple of reasons: first, he’s going to say whatever he has to in order to land a job - and you can’t really blame him. Secondly, however, Jones is a native of the Bay Area, growing up in San Jose and and playing college football for San Jose State. If Green Bay indeed does not come calling, Jones could make a nice addition for a 49ers team that could use some veteran leadership at receiver now that Anquan Boldin has moved on.