Detroit Lions Sign Free Agent Marvin Jones
By Jeff Risdon
Detroit Lions fans have been anxiously awaiting the onset of free agency, the team’s first with new General Manager Bob Quinn and Director of Pro Personnel Kyle O’Brien. The tight-lipped new regime has offered little clue as to the approach or potential targets.
With the news, reported by many sources, that the Lions are signing former Cincinnati Bengals wideout Marvin Jones to a contract, we now have a better idea.
My personal reaction?
What makes me crack a celebratory Shiner before 10 AM?
Jones fits into the Lions offense quite well. A fifth-round pick out of California in 2012, the 6’2”, 200-pound wideout is most notable for his secure hands. Per Pro Football Focus, Jones had just three drops on 99 targets last year, the first season he was a full-time starter opposite A.J. Green. He finished with 69 catches for 848 yards and four touchdowns.
Those numbers show consistency, as Jones caught 54 of his 81 targets in 2013 for 712 yards. In that year he posted 10 TDs and was a major red zone asset.
You might ask, but what about 2014? Well…
Jones missed all of his third NFL season with a plethora of leg injuries. From ESPN’s report on the Bengals placing him on IR,
Jones was kept on the active roster but sidelined until Week 4, when he practiced once during that week’s bye. He also practiced one other later time before the Bengals’ Week 5 game against New England. It was during that practice that the Bengals said he “tweaked” his ankle.
The source said the belief was that Jones broke his other foot while trying to overcompensate for the injury to his right ankle. The source also said doctors didn’t know the extent of the problems with the ankle until Jones saw a specialist just after the “tweak.”
He showed no ill effects last season. While he’s not noted as having blazing speed, Jones uses it quite well. Here’s what Joe Goodberry of the Cincy Jungle had to say about Jones’ positives:
What he offers: Marvin Jones is a quick-twitched athlete with the ability to stretch defenses with his ball skills and good speed. He has a surprising toughness about him and it shows when he’s running after the catch and blocking in the run game. Jones routinely makes impressive catches and seems to play big in moments when the team needs him. He has really developed as a route runner and his release has gone from an area of concern to an area of strength over the past four years. Jones is more than a deep threat, I feel like he can win on most routes and make tough catches also.
Goodberry, for my money the best and most informative Bengals analyst anywhere, goes on to cite the negatives:
- Will body-catch passes
- Durability, as Jones also missed time with a knee issue as a rookie
- Optimally a third option
Right now, Jones appears to be the No. 2 option in Detroit behind Golden Tate. Of course the Lions do feature Theo Riddick prominently in the passing game, as the shifty running back led all NFL RBs in receptions last year. Eric Ebron has the potential to step forward and take that No. 2 role at times. Potentially.
The full details on the contract aren’t available yet but early indications are it is for $8M a year. That’s more than Tate’s deal and seems high for a player who has never been a featured wideout. Chalk at least some of that up to both inherent inflation and a vastly higher salary cap. Jones was arguably the best wideout to hit the open market, and that’s the going rate. The Lions have ample cap room to afford him.
Bob Quinn has made his first free-agent move, and it’s a significant one. This should help ease concerns the Lions were going to be innocent bystanders while all the impact talent signed elsewhere. Let’s see what he does next!