The Packers declined to exercise their option for the 2017 season on 2013 first-round pick Datone Jones’ contract, leaving Jones on track to become a free agent next offseason.
Jones’ bid for a new job will involve a new position. Jones went from playing exclusively defensive line to taking snaps standing up on the edge as a linebacker in the second half of last season and had two sacks against the Vikings in his first game in his new role. The team spent the offseason getting him more acclimated to the position, something teammate Mike Daniels calls a “natural” for Jones’ skills.
“I’m loving it,” Jones said, via the team’s website. “A situation happens like this, you can jump in there and boom — you could fill a role and play it. Now, I’m excited because I actually do get a full season to learn coverages, learn how to cover tight ends and running backs. Just rush from different angles.”
With Clay Matthews moving back outside to join Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott and third-round pick Kyler Fackrell, Jones will have some work to do to earn a steady diet of snaps this season. If he can get those snaps and do something with them, he’ll be able to sell his versatility in his bid for a new contract next year.