The New England Patriots have agreed to terms with wide receiver Donald Jones, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports. The 25-year-old wideout entered the league in 2010 as an undrafted free agent out of Youngstown State. Jones played the first three seasons of his career with the division rival Buffalo Bills, hauling in 82 receptions for 887 yards with six touchdowns in 35 games played.
Donald Jones must have impressed Bill Belichick when going up against the Patriots as a member of the Bills. He corralled eight catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots this past season. In a Week 4 loss to the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Jones had a 68-yard catch and run, the longest play from scrimmage all season for the Bills. In Jones’ last four games against the Patriots, he has caught 18 receptions for 319 yards and two touchdowns, including a 101 yard receiving day in 2011 in a win for the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Overall, Jones had a solid season in 2012, finishing with a career-high 41 receptions for 443 yards and four touchdowns.
There is an interesting tidbit about Jones the Patriots management had to have taken into account before signing him. Jones was placed on season-ending non-football illness list as he missed the final four games of the season with an undisclosed medical issue. Jones refused to ever elaborate on his mysterious medical condition that kept him out of action at the end of the 2012 season.
Jones joins a receiving corps of Danny Amendola and Brandon Lloyd. The Patriots have reportedly informed Lloyd they will not pick up his $3 million bonus but are open to restructuring his contract, leaving a chance the wideout returns in 2013.
The Patriots also are meeting today with restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers can match any offer sheet the Patriots sign him to because he is a restricted free agent, but cap restrictions may hinder the Steelers’ chances of retaining him. Whether or not the Patriots can grab Sanders remains to be seen, but what is clear is that the Patriots are making a conscious effort to strengthen their wide receiving corps.