Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
Can the Ravens Afford to lose the All Pro kick returner and the first viable third receiving option they have had, maybe, ever?
Some NFL pundits are reporting that Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl Hero Jacoby Jones may end up being a cap casualty for the team if things don't work out in other areas. First of all the Ravens will have to re-sign Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco to a long term deal before they start worrying about signing or restructuring any of their other players. However, once that is done, could Jones be one of the "odd men out" for the 2013 season?
As a fan and someone who followed the team very closely this season I'd have to think that they would do whatever they can to keep Jones on the roster. He still has one more year on his contract in which he is scheduled to make four million dollars. All four million will be against the cap so if the Raves are looking for extra money to sign starters, some are saying that Jones may be in jeopardy of losing his job or at the very least asked to restructure his deal over a multi-year period in which they can stretch a signing bonus over a few seasons.
If you watched the Ravens at all this year you would have definitely noticed that Jones, although not a starter on offense, was a huge difference maker for the team, especially in the playoffs. Jones was voted to the Pro Bowl for his special teams play as a returner for a season in which he made two returns for over 108 yards, setting an NFL record. Jacoby also returned a punt for a touchdown as well, not to mention the bonus he gave the team in terms of field position all season long.
As a receiver he solidified the third position perfectly, giving quarterback Joe Flacco a viable deep threat on the outside to work opposite Torrey Smith. This allowed Anquan Boldin to return to his best position of slot receiver where he can work over the middle of the field and overpower smaller defenders with his excellent ability to box out and meet the ball at it's highest point.
Jones may not have been Flacco's go to guy game in and game out but he definitely had the pension for the big play weather it came on special teams or on offense. His play on offense really stood out in the playoffs once Jim Caldwell took over the play calling and started using each player to the best of their abilities.
If it were not for Jacoby Jones the Baltimore Ravens do not make the Super Bowl and certainly do not win it. He had the huge game tying play in Denver to force the game into over time and give the Ravens a chance to win. He had the huge catch in the second quarter of the Super Bowl where he then pulled a nasty spin move and shook off two defenders after falling to the ground to catch the ball (that was under-thrown by Flacco, I'm just say'n is all...) to make it into the end zone to put the Ravens up by three scores. Jones then started off the second half by returning another kickoff 108 yards to the house to put the Ravens up 28-6.
The Ravens have been looking for a game breaking return man, a viable option at the third receiver position and someone to line up wide with Torrey Smith as another deep threat for the past two seasons. They found all of that in one guy, Jacoby Jones. Like I said, he is not Joe's favorite target. In fact he's probably fourth or fifth down the line but the guy is a game breaking, play-maker. The Ravens have to find a way to keep him.
In Houston the Texans wanted him as the number two receiver. That's just not who he is. Jacoby doesn't have the best hands in the world but he is big and fast and he knows what to do once he gets the ball in his hands. This team isn't going to find another one player that can cover all of those roles for them again next season. Not just that but Jones wants to be here. He is proud to be a Raven. That is something worth holding onto and the Ravens had better recognize that.
If I see David Reed lined up to return next seasons opening day kickoff I will be thoroughly disappointed in this franchise. Or even worse Lardarius Webb. The last thing we need is to tear up his ACL again. We are already looking at a secondary mostly comprised of rookies and second year players in 2013, the last thing we need is Webb going down on special teams again. He is too fragile. Not Jones though, the guy is a horse he can take some big hits and not even be fazed in the least. Plus, I love the attitude he brings to every play he is involved in. When he get's the ball in his hands, weather on defense or special teams, he is pissed of if he doesn't end up in the end zone, no matter what the play is. You gotta love this guy. Or at least like him enough to find a way to keep him.