Not-so-shockingly, the Buffalo Bills have decided to part ways with wide receiver Donald Jones after opting against tendering the restricted free agent a one-year qualifying offer, officially making him a free agent.
Extension talks were said to have been ongoing as recently as Thursday morning, but it appears that the two sides couldn’t come to a deal. The Bills also could have tendered him a qualifying offer, which would have allowed them to match any offer that Jones received during free agency. By declining that option, though, they’ve made their intentions to move on without him crystal clear.
So where does Jones go from here? He’s coming off of a 2012 campaign during which he hauled in 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns, all career highs. One team that could use that type of production from the wide receiver spot is the Minnesota Vikings.
The 25-year-old Jones only has three years of NFL experience under his belt, which means that he likely has at least another three or four good seasons left in the tank. That is, however, if he can overcome the illness that landed him on the non-football/illness list back in December.
According to the Bills’ official release, Jones was sidelined by a medical condition that has plagued him since his college days. Although little is known about the illness – Jones stated that it was “not career-threatening at all” back in December – it could make teams wary of signing him.
Despite the question marks, Jones could be a solid acquisition for the Vikings, who are desperately in need of help at wide receiver. Apart from Percy Harvin, Minnesota has no reliable targets for quarterback Christian Ponder to throw to. Michael Jenkins has been slowed significantly by age, while the athletic Jerome Simpson severely underwhelmed in his first year with the Vikings. There is some hope with 2012 fourth-rounder Jarius Wright, but two slot receivers isn’t going to cut it.
With Jones in the mix, the Vikings would have a third option to work with who could push Jenkins out of the starting lineup and closer to retirement. More than likely, the Vikings will address the wide receiver position either via the draft or by making a splash signing during free agency. Adding a player like Jones, though, would definitely provide some insurance in the instance that a rookie doesn’t catch on quickly or one of the starters falls to injury.
He wouldn’t be a solve-all, but he’d be a step in the right direction.