Report: Brad Jones Could Return to Green Bay Packers

Just a week after re-signing inside linebacker Rob Francois, the Green Bay Packers may not be finished re-signing free agent linebackers, as unrestricted free agent Brad Jones was seen at the Packers facility yesterday meeting with the team according to a post by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 

According to the post, Jones showed up at the facility, seemingly to talk to the Packers about a possible return for the 2013 season and beyond, then left after about an hour. Jones did not speak to the media upon his exit from the facility and there was no indication that a deal has been completed.

Jones, a four-year veteran, who was drafted in round 7 of the 2009 NFL Draft, has spent four seasons with the Packers, mostly serving as a backup linebacker and key special teams contributor.

However, last season, the former Colorado Buffalo had his best season in Green Bay after he was forced into the starting lineup due to injuries to Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith. Jones played in all 16 games last season for Green Bay, starting 10 at inside linebacker. He registered a career-high 77 tackles, while also notching two sacks and four passes defensed.

At the start of NFL Free Agency, it appeared that Jones was going to be one of more sought after inside linebackers, following comments by his agent that suggested as many as eight different teams had expressed interest in the versatile linebacker. Yet, to this point, the 6-foot-3, 242-pound linebacker has only made one official visit, which was with the Tennessee Titans.

Green Bay also has a stockpile on inside linebackers with Bishop, A.J Hawk, Smith, Francois and Terrell Manning all slated to return to the team in 2013, so a return by Jones would add another body to an already deep depth chart.

However, Jones versatility may be the reason Green Bay is interested in his return, particularly following the departure of Erik Walden to the Indianapolis Colts. As a rookie, Jones flashed some potential as an outside linebacker in the Packers 3-4 defense and started seven games opposite of Clay Matthews, totaling 29 tackles, four sacks and one pass defensed.

So it’s possible the Packers have an interest in bringing back Jones, who played 794 of 801 possible defensive snaps over the final 12 games, not only to compete for the starting job at inside linebacker but also to add depth to the outside linebacker position if needed.

Jones has some skills as a pass-rusher but also excels in coverage, which makes him a great fit for the sub packages in Dom Capers defense because he can rush the passer from both the inside and outside linebacker positions, while also being able to hold his own in coverage.

At this point it’s unclear if Jones return to the team is imminent but the Packers rarely let talented, home-grown players leave so early in their careers, so it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if the Packers brought back Jones in the end in large part because his versatility will continue be a tremendous asset to Capers and the Green Bay defense, even if Jones doesn’t return to his starting role.

 

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