Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones is eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason, and he doesn’t sound like someone who is interested in signing an extension without first seeing what’s out there on the open market. With free agency approaching, Jones told NFL Media’s Scott Hanson (story via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com) that he plans to “look at all angles” on the market, suggesting he’s not interested in taking a hometown discount to re-sign with Cincinnati.
“I love Cincinnati,” Jones said. “…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.”
With very few top wideouts expected to be available this offseason, Jones could be one of the top targets for teams looking to add pass catchers. The former fifth-round pick had arguably his best year in 2015 after missing the entire 2014 campaign with a foot injury, setting new career highs with 65 receptions and 816 yards. While he didn’t come close to matching the 10 touchdowns he posted in 2013, Jones reached the end zone four times and was among the league’s more productive No. 2 receivers.
Wesseling suggests that Jones ought to be targeting the same sort of five-year, $31MM deal that Golden Tate signed with the Lions a couple offseasons ago, adding that perhaps the Browns – whose new head coach Hue Jackson worked with Jones as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator – would be a logical suitor.
However, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer hears from sources that Jones will seek about $7MM per year, slightly more than Tate. That could make Eric Decker‘s deal with the Jets (five years, $36.25MM) a potential point of comparison for Jones, though he might not get quite that high. Still, while the Bengals may be unwilling to match that number, the wide receiver will be the team’s top priority among free-agents-to-be, says Owczarski.
Although the Bengals will prioritize a deal for Jones, he’s not likely to be a candidate for the franchise tag, which is expected to exceed $14MM for receivers in 2016. So Cincinnati will have to get something done within the next few weeks to keep him from getting offers from other teams.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.