Not that mixed martial arts needed any help, but the popularity of Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones and the support he has publicly given to his brother, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon "Bones" Jones, has led to the popularity of the sport growing throughout Maryland.
For the first time ever, Baltimore will host the Ultimate Fighting Championship on April 26, and it would be naive to think that the Joneses didn't have a hand in making it possible. After all, Jon is scheduled to defend his title against Glover Teixeira — whom has no apparent relation to Mark Teixeira, the Yankees first baseman and Severna Park native.
Unfortunately, the UFC fight in Baltimore may not be the only first of the night, as it'll likely be the first time Ravens fans see Jones publicly as a member of another NFL franchise.
Given a second-round tender prior to the start of last season, Jones earned a guaranteed $2.023 million. Playing in 14 games, totaling four sacks and 53 combined tackles, Jones is set for a major pay increase once free agency begins on March 11. With the Ravens already making their intentions clear on re-signing tight end Dennis Pitta and left tackle Eugene Monroe, there simply may not be enough money to offer Jones a competing offer for what he'll receive once he beings to receive offers from other teams.
I also wouldn't expect Jones to take a discount to stay with the Ravens.
Last season, Jones joined former Ravens linebacker Brad Jackson and myself on the Purple and Black Attack on 105.7 The Fan. Jones was joking, but when the topic of his future with the Ravens came up, he said, "I'm tired of playing for free."
Even though he was joking, Jones was alluding that he had been outplaying his rookie contract and was looking forward to a big pay day in the future.
Chances are that Jones will be the latest player to depart Baltimore and have fans kicking themselves much like former Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe did a year prior.
Personally, I would love to see Jones stay, but making as much money as possible is something he deserves. If you've ever met him, you'll echo my sentiments that he just may be the nicest person you've ever encountered. He possesses a value for more than what he does on the field, as he's a great locker room asset as well.
Even though I hope he does this with a paycheck with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's signature on it, I can only wish Jones to take the biggest check possible to the bank. He certainly has deserved it.