For some Bengals fans, the re-signing of Adam Jones was the best news they've heard all offseason. Jones has been one of the best multi-purpose players on the team over the last six years. When we heard things like him betting the Dolphins would be interested in him or that the Cowboys were potentially looking at him, and even him outright saying he wouldn't rule the Steelers out, plenty of fans started to worry about Jones' future in football.
Once free agency began, the Bengals cleared up any speculation on his future and put pen to paper on a three year, $22 million deal. On Thursday, he spoke with the press about what all of this means going forward and confirmed that his mindset through the whole process was wanting to re-sign with the Bengals.
"Around three thirty, four o'clock, all the calls were coming in and the offers were coming in. I knew in the back of my head that I never wanted to leave here. It was pretty nerve wracking during that part," Jones said in a press conference last Thursday of the first day of free agency.
A noticeable grin across Jones' face emerged when he was asked what it would have taken for him to leave.
"It would have taken a lot," he said,"I'm well content here, my family loves it here, the city's been good to me. I've built a great relationship with the community. I love the locker room. I love the people upstairs. It's a good place for me and it's a good place for me to be in my life. There was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to be back."
One person on the team that Jones particularly loves is Marvin Lewis.
"Me and Coach Lewis talk every day", Jones said, "He's like my dad, and I don't think he'd want his son mad at him because he can't [return punts]... I feel it's another aspect of the game that people take for granted. If you go back and look at the film, we've won a lot of games on special teams by being able to turn the field ratio of the game. If you go back and look at it, it probably won us three or four games."
Returning punts and kickoffs tends to be a younger man's game. Once an NFL player hits a certain age, they start to feel the effects of so many years playing football. Risky jobs like punt and kickoff returns tend to no longer be a desirable job for many, but Adam Jones is not that kind of player. His mindset? "That's what I love to do."
As a Bengals fan, you wouldn't want Marvin Lewis to 'make Jones mad' by not allowing him to continue returning kicks and punts. However, the primary issue is not utilizing the best of his abilities. Jones has been one of the most effective returners the Bengals have ever had, but he was also one of the most effective defensive backs on the team last year.
His combination of talents are exactly what earned him a new, three year, $22 million contract with the Bengals. But, the fact that he is going on 33-years-old this year definitely isn't an encouraging sign for the prospect of allowing him to continue to play multiple roles. The double punishment of embarking on the mad man's quest of constantly running head-first and full-speed at a line of defenders that virtually spans the whole field, as well as being a very physical defensive back, can be very taxing on a player's body. Since getting his start in the NFL, Jones has sat out for nearly two full seasons though, so his wear and tear is a bit less than other players who are in their early thirties.
Jones believes the team is in a good place going forward and heading in a Championship direction.
"I think we did a good job bringing most of the guys back. I would like to see Reggie [Nelson] back. [Wallace] Gillberry, the guys that play dirty," Jones said, and further clarified that he meant "the clean up guy, the guys who are always going 100 percent," when referring to dirty. "Mr. Brown, Coach Lewis, Paulie G did a great job of getting the defense back."
Jones knows going forward now that he's been rewarded with a lucrative contract, it'll be part of his responsibility to successfully lead his teammates. Jones wants his teammates to push each other to the limit and get past the hump everybody knows about, the playoffs.
"I think we're real close to getting there," Jones said, " We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle. Of course we lost two receivers, but defensive wise I think we have all the keys to the puzzle to get to the next level."
But just winning a playoff game, though it's something this Bengals team hasn't yet been able to do, isn't enough anymore. Jones has a vision for his contract with the Bengals and what his mentality will be heading into the next three years. Jones, like George Iloka, wants to win a Super Bowl with Cincinnati.
"I really truly have a picture of how I want this to look," Jones said. "I would not take it for granted, I'm not going to let myself down or my family down. I'm eager. It's time to be the best; it's time to work to be the best. This is what I've asked for and now I'm on this stage, so it's time to go, it's time to step up. The picture, look like five years from now, is hopefully the confetti dropping on us in these next five years, and then, I go and take KC's [Kevin Coyle, defensive backs coach's] job."