James Jones was never a primary target for the Green Bay Packers, but he might be for the Donovan McNabb-led Vikings.
The Vikings are showing interest in a few wide receivers in the wake of losing Sidney Rice to the Seattle Seahawks, and Jones appears to be their lead target, with reports of them being showing interest in him, Malcom Floyd and Braylon Edwards.
Jones has never caught more than 50 passes in his four-year NFL career, but he has come close to the 700-yard mark twice in that span and is coming off his rookie contract, which is a time that the Vikings like to target players in free agency.
Last year, the physical 6-foot-1 receiver caught 50 passes (a career high) for 679 yards – both career highs – and five touchdowns, but he only started three games for the Super Bowl champion Packers. After an impressive rookie season in which he caught 47 passes for 676 yards and two touchdowns in nine starts, he tailed off for two seasons. In 2008, he caught only 20 passes, and in 2009 he caught 32.
One of the questions with Jones is whether he can be a No. 1 receiver.
"Jones a complementary piece in a diverse, well designed pass game. Not a lead receiver," NFL Films producer Greg Cosell tweeted. "Measured, methodical, not explosive. ??? hands."
At 6-foot-1, Jones is considered an outside, physical receiver, but not a true deep threat. He also dropped a couple of touchdown passes in the Packers' Super Bowl run last year. Another drawback is his fumbles. In his two most productive seasons – 2010 and 2007 – he had three fumbles each.
On the plus side, he was one of seven receivers that coldhardfootballfacts.com had averaging more than 6 yards after the catch – a list that included Percy Harvin and DeSean Jackson last year.
But, as Cosell pointed out in another tweet, the foundation of Bill Musgrave's offense will be in the running game.
"McNabb situation intriguing. Limited WR, McNabb doesn't elevate WR," Cosell tweeted. "W/Musgrave + drafting of Rudolph, expect 2 TE sets w/run-game foundation."
Still, a big-bodied outside receiver is likely needed to replace Rice, and the Vikings appear to know that.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Analyzing free-agent target James Jones
Viking Update Top Stories
Assessing the metrics for Vikings RBsIn a season that saw the offensive line in flux, the running backs were rotating liberally with each of them displaying different strengths, as the net yards over average, grades…
Viking Update8:33 AM
Podcast: Outside free agents, Sunday reviewWith the Super Bowl teams set, we review the conference championship games and look at some of the potential free agents for the Minnesota Vikings to pursue.
Viking Update6:43 AM
McKinnon unsure of what's coming for offenseThere are numerous questions surrounding the makeup of the 2017 Minnesota Vikings offense. Running back Jerick McKinnon will be part of it. What will his role be? He doesn't know,…
Viking Update5:52 AM
Barr named to Pro Bowl as replacementThe Minnesota Vikings now have six players in the Pro Bowl after LB Anthony Barr was named a replacement on Monday.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 7:46 AM
Another NFC contender emergesWith Atlanta heading to the Super Bowl, they become the 12th NFC team in the last 16 years to make the Big Show, leaving the Minnesota Vikings and three other teams in the green …
Viking UpdateYesterday at 5:05 AM