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Keeping Up With Marvin Jones' Demands Could Be Tough For The Bengals

Weak market for wide receivers could make Jones a coveted and expensive free-agent target this offseason.

NFL.com Around the NFL Writer Chris Wesseling believes that Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones could be "the belle of the ball" in a soft wide-receiver market during 2016 free-agency.

Jones' potential destination? You guessed it: Cleveland, the happy possessor of former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, the Browns' new head coach.

Reporting on Wednesday, Wesseling wrote that Jones "is eager to test free agency."

"I love Cincinnati," Jones told NFL Media's Scott Hanson "...But at the same time, I am a free agent. It wouldn't be good for me not to test the waters a little bit. It's just an exciting process."

There is a big difference between "testing the waters" and being "the belle of the ball." And here's a news flash, Wesseling said Jones "has no interest in offering the Bengals a hometown discount."

Well, duh.

Jones plans to "look at all angles" on the market, "hoping an irresistible opportunity presents itself," said Wesseling who surmised that if Alshon Jeffery draws the Bears' franchise tag, Jones will be "vying with Anquan Boldin and Travis Benjamin as the most coveted wide receivers available."

That is a pretty weak market. Jeffery is injury prone and unproven without Brandon Marshall as a sidekick. Boldin turns 36 in October. Benjamin came out of nowhere to be a productive receiver, but he was wildly inconsistent last season for the Browns. In that light, Jackson may view Jones as an upgrade.

Wesseling correctly noted that Jones has missed 22 games in four years while averaging 58 receptions, 764 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two healthy seasons. In fact. Jones crawled into Marvin Lewis' doghouse twice because the coach questioned Jones' desire to get back on the field after missing all of 2014 with foot and ankle injuries.

Jones returned and looked to be back to full speed while starting a career-high 13 games and playing in all 16. He finished with a career-high 65 catches for a career-best 816     yards (12.6 average) with four touchdowns.

After coming into the league in 2012, Jones has yet to reach 1,800 career receiving yards or 16 TDs. He surpassed 100 career receptions this past season.

As a high-end No. 2 receiver in his prime, Wesseling wrote that Jones "should be targeting a new deal in the range of Golden Tate's five-year, $31 million salary," which could put him out of the Bengals' range after they locked down A.J. Green with a four-year, $60 million deal.


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