In the buildup to NFL free agency, one player among the Green Bay Packers' group of soon-to-be unrestricted free agents who has flown under the radar is linebacker Brad Jones. Very little has been written about his future, but with the negotiating period for free agents open since late Friday night, Jones has been drawing interest. According to his agent, Josh Wright, eight teams have been in contact with him regarding Jones. Free agents cannot sign a contract until 3 p.m. Tuesday, but the three-day negotiating window leading up to the official start of free agency is a good indicator of the market for some players. That eight teams have contacted Jones speaks to the ground he has gained since the start of last season. Jones, a core special teams player the last four seasons and occasional starter, became a full-time starter at inside linebacker after season-ending injuries to Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and D.J. Smith (knee). It wasn't long before Jones was playing three-down football, serving on running downs and as the lone linebacker when the defense went to its dime package. In all, Jones started 10 of 16 games and finished with 77 tackles, two sacks, four pass breakups and a forced fumble. He was particularly effective in goal-line situations and played physically given his 6-foot-3, 242-pound frame. The Packers still have some concern about their inside linebacker position because Bishop's return from surgery to reattach his hamstring muscle isn't a slam dunk and Smith's return in time for training camp is in question. It is one reason so many people have predicted the Packers will select an inside linebacker in the draft. In Jones, someone would be getting a versatile linebacker who will have no problem learning a new defense. He has played both inside and outside and at the least can be a very good addition on special teams. Whether the Packers value that as much as others or feel for salary-cap reasons they can't compete is something that will be known soon. If Jones were to leave, A.J. Hawk, Jamari Lattimore and Terrell Manning would be the only inside linebackers with game experience who are ready to take part in the off-season conditioning program. Another option, Robert Francois, is a restricted free agent whose future with the team will be decided by the start of free agency. The Packers have to either submit a tender worth at least $1.3 million to Francois, sign a long-term deal or cut him and see if they can re-sign him at a lower price.
Several teams show interest in free-agent LB Brad Jones
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Mar 11