Packers, Josh Jones look headed for a summer breakup
Josh Jones might have returned to Green Bay for mandatory minicamp this week, but there are more than enough signs to suggest a breakup is coming between the disgruntled defensive back and the Packers.
Jones skipped voluntary OTAs, reportedly in an effort to leverage his way out of Green Bay via trade or release, which never happened. Despite reporting for minicamp, Jones didn’t practice Tuesday or Wednesday while dealing with what’s being described as a hamstring issue. He apparently suffered the injury while working out with his trainer in Florida.
His return this week did nothing to help clear up his future with the Packers. If anything, it made a future move look more likely.
GM Brian Gutekunst called Jones a “very talented player” but left the door wide open for an eventual trade or release, emphasizing that he’ll put the team’s desires over the player’s.
“Right now we’re working through that,” Gutekunst said, suggesting a trade is still very much on the table.
Jones spoke to reporters after practice Tuesday and was nothing if not defensive about the entire situation, defending his decision to skip OTAs as the byproduct of wanting to spend more time with his family and work out with his own trainer. If Jones was happy to be back in Green Bay, he did a terrific job of hiding it.
The threat of escalating fines ensured Jones would be present for minicamp, but he stood on the sidelines in sneakers and did nothing football-related either day of camp. Either he’s really hurt, or the Packers had no interest in him being on the practice field.
Jones committed to reporting to the start of training camp, which opens late next month, but it’s going to be obvious fairly quickly if the situation is tenable or not.
Coaches and players will know if Jones wants to be there or feels wanted there, and Gutekunst – who has preached over and over about the value of chemistry and cohesiveness inside the locker room – probably wouldn’t wait long to act if there’s any sign of trouble during camp.
Jones already publicly complained about his playing time last season. It’s hard to envision Jones, now locked in as a backup at safety, being a happy camper come late July.
Neither Jones nor the Packers sounded 100 percent committed to sticking together, even if Pettine and coach Matt LaFleur both voiced appreciation for Jones’ versatility and talent.
Then again, Jones shot down the idea that he’s a linebacker, a position he’s played at times during his first two seasons. And it’s tough to see a path to a starting job at safety, where Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage has been the starters since Day 1 of OTAs.
There’s no reason for the Packers to make a decision on Jones now, when league-wide interest is likely low and the player has zero leverage. The first half of the equation could change once teams start to get a feel for their rosters in training camp.
It’s possible Jones could come to camp and prove his worth as a backup safety and subpackage contributor, but minicamp provided a glimpse at what appears to be the start of a summer breakup between player and team.