It won't be long until NFL free agency opens, and hopefully the last image we see of Adam Jones in Bengals stripes isn't a negative one.
Jones' final moments of the 2015-16 season included a penalty that later brought him $28,940 in fines for unsportsmanlike conduct and making contact with a game official. That came with less than 90 seconds remaining in Cincinnati's Wild Card loss to the Steelers, which put Chris Boswell in position for a chip-shot game-winning field goal.
On Monday, Jones was a guest on Pro Football Talk where he discussed his offseason and the fateful day against Pittsburgh. On the show, Jones took full responsibility for the play that helped give the Steelers a win.
"I know I lost my cool in the last game. That won’t happen again," Jones said. "Discipline lost us one game, which was the playoff game. Beside that, coach Lewis did a good job of making sure everyone was on the game page."
As far as free agency goes, Jones says he would play for any team that wants him, but he's open to go to a team that has a good chance to win. "I wouldn't say I wouldn't play for the Steelers, I don't have no problem with the Steelers, but that would be hard for me to do that. I would prefer to play for a team that plays against the Steelers."
Jones doesn't know whether he'll be a Bengals player again in 2016, but he is confident he'll be on an NFL roster next season.
"As of now, I don’t know, to be honest," Jones said when asked if he'd be a Bengals in 2016. "I know a lot of other teams have been contacting my agent saying if I don’t get signed there are other places I can go. The Bengals haven't reached out with a number, but you know how Mrs. Katie and Troy, they normally wait around the 5th or the 6th to start issuing out contracts and stuff."
Interestingly, other teams are not allowed to currently be contacting Jones' agent until the legal tampering period begins on March 7. So, whether he's just saying that or if it's actually happening are two different stories.
Jones also talked about raising his daughter, life outside of football, more on free agency and other topics that make this interview something any Bengals fan should listen to:
"I'm the kid that didn't give up," Jones said. "It's been a hell of a ride, but I wouldn't change it. It changed me as a person, opened up my eyes about how to treat people, how people should treat you."
At this point, it looks like the Bengals will make a push this week to get Jones re-signed before free agency opens next week. I'd say they are the favorite to re-sign him, more than anything because the rest of the league will be hesitant to sign Jones and take him out of the city and support circle that helped him drastically turn his life around.
While other teams will show interest, the Bengals should make Jones feel at home and maybe even give him the best offer any team gives him. Cautious optimism is probably the best way to look at his free agency from a Bengals standpoint.