Jones Waits For Second NFL Chance

SPRINGDALE — Four years ago, NFL executives were swooning over Matt Jones' 6-foot-6 frame and fast 40-yard dash time.

The former Arkansas quarterback had raw athletic ability and first-round potential. But he's now considered too big of a risk for NFL teams to touch, even at a bargain price.

Jones remains out of the league three months after the Jacksonville Jaguars cut the wide receiver following his five-day stint in the Washington County Jail for violating the terms of his drug court program.

And with NFL training camps set to begin in late July, Jones continues to wait for a general manager to give him a second chance at a pro career.

"An opportunity will come about. Life's too good, man, to be worried about little stuff like that," Jones said Wednesday after participating in a Smart Sports football camp for kids at Springdale High.

"I definitely want the opportunity to play football for a few more years, but I'm just enjoying myself."

Jones said he's continued to work out and stay in shape while his agent, Dave Butz, speaks with teams about signing the 21st overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Jones declined to say which teams his agent has spoken to, and Butz was unavailable for comment.

The wide receiver's legal troubles — coupled with his perceived lack of work ethic — has made general managers think twice about signing him even to a low-cost, low-risk deal.

ESPN NFL analyst Chris Mortensen said he expects a team to take a chance on Jones, who's only 26 and coming off his best season. But Mortensen was hard-pressed to say which team might pick up the Fort Smith native.

"I know he's been down in Florida working his rear end off. I know he misses football, which is a really good sign," said Mortensen, who lives in Bella Vista. "I don't care what you say, he caught 65 balls in 12 games last year.

"... I got a feeling that somebody before training camp is going to take a chance (on him)."

There has been speculation that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — an Arkansas alum — could sign the former Razorback to address the team's need at wide receiver.

But Mortensen doesn't believe Dallas will take a gamble on Jones, especially after the team cut ties with talented but controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens.

"T.O. was never a problem off the field and there was never a problem with his work ethic," Mortensen said. "And now you bring in somebody at the same position (Jones) who had a problem off the field and whose work ethic has been questioned."

Jones was the Jaguars' leading receiver in 2008, catching 65 passes for 761 yards and two touchdowns despite being suspended for the final three games of the season. The suspension was punishment for his July 10 arrest on Dickson Street for felony possession of cocaine.

Jones avoided trial by agreeing to enter Washington County Drug Court. But the Jaguars cut the wide receiver on March 16, two days after he was released from jail for violating the terms of the drug court program by drinking beer while golfing with friends.

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