It was inevitable that James Jones would find his way out of Green Bay before the end of his career; the question was more about when it would happen. Jones had drawn little interest in the off-cycle free agency period of 2011 and was ultimately brought back to Green Bay at a bargain.
History did not repeat itself this March as a desperate Raiders club with a soft spot for Packer players gobbled Jones up for much more than he’s worth. The No.3 wide receiver spot is now Jarrett Boykin’s to lose – something that should excite Packers fans, rather than make them nervous.
While true that more depth is always preferable to less, Boykin will surely benefit from the increased playing time, just as he did in 2013 when Jones was injured for several games. Multiple 100-yard games last season served as proof that the former Virginia Tech Hokie is more than just a special teamer or role player. In comparing the rising star to Jones, one could argue that Boykin brings both better hands and increased athleticism to the table, while also coming at a cheaper price in the interim.
Perhaps the major issue with Jones’s departure is that the Packers are also likely to be without jump-ball threat Jermichael Finley in 2014. Losing both Jones and Finley undoubtedly raises pressure to fill the holes on a GM that doesn’t typically allow positional needs to dictate draft selections. However, inconsistency in the passing game was evident last season when the offense was missing primary contributors like Jones, Finley and Randall Cobb.
Though many teams would gladly take Cobb, Boykin and Jordy Nelson as their first three receivers, a pass-heavy team like the Packers will need to add another body in next month’s draft. GM Ted Thompson hasn’t been shy in drafting receivers early – Cobb, Nelson and former Packer Greg Jennings were all drafted in the second round – and I don’t expect him to be any different this year, despite pressing needs on the other side of the ball.