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This time, Jones finds buyer, DL overhaul continues

by Mark Daniels

A couple of years ago, James Jones was an unrestricted free agent but caught a soft market and came back to the Packers.  Given another chance to test the waters, Jones found a new home, signing a three year deal with the Oakland Raiders.   His departure breaks up what became the latest "big three" group of wide receivers for Aaron Rodgers.   The original group was Jones, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, which morphed into Jones, Nelson and Randall Cobb when Jennings departed for the Minnesota Vikings.  Now it's a big two and a half with Jarrett Boykin waiting to emerge as an every game weapon.

Jones never produced eye popping numbers but he always produced.  310 career catches for 4305 yards and 37 touchdowns since coming to the Packers as a third round pick in the 2007 draft out of San Jose State.  In 2012, he snared 64 balls and a league leading 14 touchdowns.  Last season, he hit a career high with 817 yards.

Jones will turn 30 at the end of this month and the Packers were willing to let him go in spite of those numbers.   He's been a true professional on the field and in the locker room.  He played hurt, battling a variety of injuries, particularly this past season.  His departure gives Rodgers a pair of go to receivers and the offense will be in need of another play maker.  Boykin has only shown flashes, Jermichael Finley's status is clearly uncertain and the remaining skill position players remain mostly unproven.

Jones is in essence, going home, having played his college ball south of the Oakland and Bay Area in San Jose.   He was obviously valued by former Packers director of player personnel and now the Raiders' General Manager Reggie McKenzie.

As for the defensive line.....

General Manager Ted Thompson continues to mine the NFC North Division, snagging Julius Peppers over the weekend on a three year, 30 million dollar deal.  The 34 year old Peppers will have about 8.5 million guaranteed for this season but nothing beyond that.  The 8 time Pro Bowler will be asked to deliver an edge rush and maybe just as importantly, provide a mentoring role to the likes of Mike Daniels and Datone Jones.    Now Thompson has added Letroy Guion to the mix.  The 6-4, 315 pounder has played his entire six year career with the Minnesota Vikings.  An original 5th round pick out of Florida State, Guion has started 28 games the past two years and has five career sacks.  The arrival of these two black and blue defensive linemen may signal the end for Ryan Pickett who was of great service to the Pack, C.J. Wilson who's role was dramatically cut last year, and possibly Johnny Jolly who says he has received medical clearance to resume his career after neck surgery in January.  That clearance may not come from the Pack's medical staff however.

Here's the Pack's Free Agent Tracker to date:

Departures:  C Evan Dietrich-Smith, WR James Jones.

Arrivals:  DE Julius Peppers, DL Letroy Guion.

Retainees:  DB Sam Shields, DT B.J.Raji, TE Andrew Quarless.