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Datone Jones Makes It Six Free-Agent Defections

The Green Bay Packers lost two more free agents on Tuesday, including outside linebacker Datone Jones.

The exodus has been breathtaking.

Of the Green Bay Packers’ 10 unrestricted free agents heading into free agency, six of them have left town.

The latest free-agent defections came on Tuesday, when running back Eddie Lacy signed with the Seattle Seahawks and outside linebacker Datone Jones signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Jones was the Packers’ first-round pick in 2013, No. 26 overall. On draft night, he talked about being as dominant as one of his idols, Reggie White.

“Just knowing him and watching a lot of him when I was growing up, all I know is Reggie White played one way, and that was with maniacal effort and just complete hunger,” Jones said at the time. “No matter who he lined up against, he wanted to dominate. And that’s the type of player I want to carry myself after, just a player that wants to dominate at whatever he does and wants to win.”

Jones was supposed to be a three-down defensive end but bombed in that role. In 2015, he was moved to outside linebacker, where he spent his last two seasons with the team.

By one measure, Jones entered free agency on a strong note with a team-high 16 quarterback hits, by the coaches’ count. However, he had only one sack — giving him a four-year total of nine. He had only two stuffs, which are defined by STATS as a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage on a running play, in 548 snaps. For comparison, recently re-signed Jayrone Elliott had 3.5 stuffs in 136 snaps.
With the Vikings, Jones will attempt to salvage his career as a lineman in a 4-3 scheme, which might better fit his ability. According to NFL Network, he inked a one-year, $3.75 million deal.

“Now, I’ve got a chance to chase Aaron (Rodgers), one of the best in the world,” Jones told reporters in Minnesota. “It’s nothing like being able to play one of the best quarterbacks in the world. … Aaron knows I’m coming hungry.”

Jones and Lacy followed in the footsteps of guard T.J. Lang (Detroit), defensive back Micah Hyde (Buffalo), center J.C. Tretter (Cleveland) and outside linebacker Julius Peppers (Carolina).

With tight end Jared Cook almost certain to leave, as well, that would increase the total to seven key players who have left this offseason.

The Packers have signed only one unrestricted free agent, tight end Martellus Bennett. Counting Cook, the Packers would have a net loss of six free agents. The maximum number of compensatory picks a team can gain is four. So, in theory, Packers GM Ted Thompson could sign a free agent or two and not dramatically impact the compensatory-pick ledger.

Other than Cook — who visited Seattle and has Minnesota and Oakland on the docket — Green Bay's unsigned unrestricted free agents are running back Christine Michael and long snapper Brett Goode. Also unrestricted is linebacker Jordan Tripp, who was a restricted free agent but was not tendered.

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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