Friday, February 12, 2010
Thoughts on Bengals and Matt Jones
By James Walker
The Cincinnati Bengals will sign free agent receiver Matt Jones to a contract Friday in an attempt to improve their passing game, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Matt Jones is a low-cost addition, but how will he perform after a year away from football?
Here are some initial thoughts on the signing:
Monetarily this isn't a big risk, but the Bengals would take a huge hit publicly if Jones' previous problems are not behind him. It will be interesting to see where Jones is in his personal life. He had a solid season in 2008, yet no team wanted to touch him in 2009. That leads me to believe his personal issues were at "code red." The Bengals are counting on things to be different for Jones in 2010.
On the field, the biggest issue is rust. Missing a year in the NFL and coming back is not easy, especially at the receiver position where precision and timing are so important. The Bengals cannot afford to wait a year for Jones to get his legs back under him. Cincinnati needs immediate help at receiver next season if it wants to repeat as AFC North champs. Can Jones be the same player he was two years ago? Only time will tell. But a chance to get into the team's offseason program early will help.
This signing makes me question whether the Bengals have any serious interest in pending free agent receiver Terrell Owens. As evidenced by their reported flirtations with Matt Jones, Adam "Pacman" Jones and Donte' Stallworth, Cincinnati is looking to go cheap. These are all bargain-basement reclamation projects who make me wonder if the Bengals will suddenly pour out multi-millions of dollars to land someone like Owens or another big-name receiver in free agency to help quarterback Carson Palmer.
Finally, what does Jones' signing mean for Laveranues Coles? He signed a $28 million contract last year and underperformed in 2009. Coles, 32, isn't getting any younger. He's clearly on the downside of his career but the Bengals still owe him a lot of money. Keep an eye on what the team decides to do, if anything, with this situation.