- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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Few teams are more acquainted with what Jones can do as a return man than the Steelers.
Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown last November at Heinz Field. He turned in a more memorable kickoff return against the Steelers a year earlier when he had to change direction after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stepped onto the field.
The play created national headlines and raised questions about whether the Steelers coach had done it intentionally, something Tomlin vehemently denied. That Jones had to settle for a 73-yard return did nothing to take away from his reputation as one of the best return men in the NFL.
He bolstered that this season by joining Cincinnati’s Adam Jones as the only players to finish among the NFL’s top 10 in both kickoff and punt returns.
Jones averaged 30.6 yards per kickoff return in 2014, second-best in the NFL. The Steelers averaged 21.7 yard per kickoff return last season, tied for 26th in the NFL.
The Ravens balked at paying Jones $2.5 million in 2015 since the eighth-year veteran did not give them much as a receiver last season.
Lance Moore found that out the hard way after signing a two-year, $3 million contract with the Steelers last March. Moore played limited snaps and caught 14 passes – Jones had five less for the Ravens in 2014 – and he wants out of Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are likely to grant Moore his request and now have even more impetus to do so.
They could take the money they save by releasing Moore – it is a little north of $1 million – and put it toward a short-term contract for Jones if he is amenable to one.
Jones turns 31 in July and he would give the Steelers a tried and true return man while serving as the No. 4 or even No. 5 wide receiver depending on what Pittsburgh adds in the draft.
It makes a ton of sense for the Steelers to upgrade at kickoff return after Dri Archer faltered so badly last season before losing his job.
Jomes might be the right guy at the right time and the right price.
And it wouldn’t hurt the Steelers to at least look into that possibility.