This was more or less a formality, but now it’s official. The Green Bay Packers have decided not to pick up outside linebacker Datone Jones’ fifth-year option.
Jones’ 2016 season, like many of his teammates, will now be one in which he’s playing for his next payday.
The Packers had the option to let Jones’ rookie contract expire after the season or agree to pay him over $8 million in 2017. That decision is pretty much a no-brainer.
The Packers did the same thing last year when they decided to decline 2012 first-rounder Nick Perry’s option. They ultimately re-signed Perry to a one-year, $5 million deal this offseason.
Although we have high hopes for Jones now that he’s going to be a full-time outside linebacker, his production thus far doesn’t warrant $8 million in 2017.
Jones had 20 tackles and three sacks in very limited snaps in 2015 and that was his best season to date. Jones’ career totals are 51 tackles and eight sacks over three seasons, one of which (2014) Jones opened as a starter.
The Packers miscast Jones as a defensive end for two-plus seasons, but just because he has potential as an outside linebacker doesn’t mean the Packers were going to jump on his option.
If Jones plays well in his first full season at outside linebacker, he’ll get paid by someone. And with Julius Peppers likely at the end of the line, it just might be the Packers.