CINCINNATI -- The next few months could be a whirlwind for Adam Jones.
Days after drawing a personal foul penalty for making contact with an official late in the Cincinnati Bengals' 18-16 wild-card round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 11-year veteran spoke on the harsh reality about his future: he now has to become a salesman, convincing the Bengals and others why signing a 32-year-old cornerback to a new contract is a worthy investment.
"I truly love it here in Cincinnati. I want to be here," said Jones, one of 15 pending Bengals free agents. "Obviously, if things are right, I'll stay here. If not, I have to do what I have to do. I still have to take care of my family."
If Jones is able to re-sign with the Bengals, it would be his fourth contract with the franchise since he was originally brought on board in May 2010. After a series of off-field incidents contributed to the rocky start of a career that first took Jones to Tennessee and Dallas, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis felt Jones was worthy of a second chance. Since coming to Cincinnati, Jones has made more headlines for his on-field play; some of which has still caught the ire of the league and opponents.
Before Jones' penalty Saturday night, he was also part of a controversial play in the Bengals' season opener at Oakland when he retaliated to jabs Raiders receiver Amari Cooper was directing into his throat. At the end of one long Raiders run, Jones ended up on the ground with Cooper, where he pushed the rookie wideout's helmet off his head before slamming his bare head into the helmet. Jones was fined $35,000 for that play.
Otherwise, Jones was one of the Bengals' best players in 2015, recording 62 tackles (one shy of his career high) and three interceptions. A case could be made that as good as his past three seasons have been, this one was the best of the three.
"Adam's been great. He's been great all year," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. "He's played his butt off. He had a really good year."
Given the gamble the Bengals took on him due to his past, Jones is appreciative of the opportunity the front office, run by team president Mike Brown and his daughter and son-in-law, afforded him over the years.
"The Browns have done a lot for me and my family," Jones said. "Coach [Marvin] Lewis also. I'm a pretty loyal person when it comes to stuff like that, but I've got to take care of my family first and foremost. We'll go through the process and see how it goes."
Jones told ESPN during training camp that the team had reached out about a contract extension then. Once the season began, though, Jones didn't hear anything else. It was near the start of the regular season that Pro Bowlers A.J. Green and Andrew Whitworth were locked into extensions.
Jones, the sixth overall draft pick in 2005, said he owes going through a free-agency search to himself and his family.
"First defensive player picked, had everything took from me, came here and was the fourth corner, worked my ass off every day, got my starting position back and played at an elite level as a top 5 corner," Jones said. "I owe that at least to my family and myself. We'll see how it goes."