Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie was part of the Green Bay Packers' scouting department when Green Bay drafted him in the third round in 2007. Jones caught 310 passes for 4,305 yards and 37 touchdowns during his seven seasons in Green Bay. After leading the NFL with 14 touchdown catches in 2012, Jones battled through injuries to catch 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games in 2013.
"Anything can happen in free agency," receivers coach Edgar Bennett said. "Certainly would like to get James back, considering everything he's done and still can do. He's a phenomenal player. Just his overall toughness and needing that, I think James by far stands out."
According to Schefter, the deal is worth $11.3 million. He earned $9.6 million under his previous three-year deal with Green Bay.
Jones' departure — not to mention his relatively lengthy stay on the free-agent market — is anything but surprising. He turns 30 in two weeks and the Packers have a player with a similar skill-set, Jarrett Boykin, waiting in the wings. Boykin, who will turn 25 in November, caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.
Jones, however, had a knack for gaining yards after the catch, even with his limited athleticism and a knee injury sustained at Baltimore on Oct. 13. A good chunk of his yardage this past season came on quick passes at the line of scrimmage, with Jones using his savvy and strength to gain 5, 6 or 7 yards.
Green Bay has stars Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb under contract, along with Boykin, Myles White (nine catches as an undrafted rookie), Chris Harper (zero catches as a fourth-round rookie claimed on waivers), Kevin Dorsey (seventh-round rookie who spent the season on injured reserve) and Sederrik Cunningham (an undrafted rookie who spent the season on injured reserve).
With only Nelson, Cobb and Boykin as proven receivers, and with Jones in Oakland and Jermichael Finley's future in doubt, the Packers are thin on the perimeter for the Aaron Rodgers-led passing game.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.