It's beginning to look like it will be more and more challenging for the Bengals to keep Adam Jones in Cincinnati.
Despite Jones being 32-years-old (and turning 33 in September), the veteran cornerback is coming off arguably his best season as a pro, and teams are lining up to sign him in hopes he'll continue playing at that level in 2016. We've seen several teams mentioned to this point, and you can add the Baltimore Ravens to that list.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports Baltimore is showing interest in Jones as they look to upgrade their porous secondary. Florio also reports that the New York Jets are looking at Jones. They too need a new corner after cutting Antonio Cromartie this offseason.
The good news is those two teams are among the worst salary cap situations in the NFL this offseason, Per Over the Cap, the Jets ($6.4 million) and Ravens ($6.6 million) have the least and second-least cap space of any team right now, so it's unlikely they'll make strong pushes for Jones.
The same cannot be said for the Cleveland Browns, who have $60 million to play with this offseason as they look to make several big splashes under Hue Jackson. We already know about Hue wanting several of his offensive players in Cleveland, and he apparently is going after Bengals defensive guys as well.
Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reports the Browns have expressed interest in Jones. They have a pretty decent stable of corners with Tramon Williams and Joe Haden (when healthy), but adding Jones would certainly upgrade that secondary. One problem with the Browns is today, on ESPN, Jones says he wants to go to a team where "we have a chance of winning." With the Browns, Jones may not believe that's the case.
Another team pursuing Jones are the Miami Dolphins, who quietly appear to be strongly in the running for his services. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports the Dolphins are among teams in the mix for Jones.
Businessman and former rapper Luther Campbell, a noted Miami Hurricanes and Dolphins fan, seems to believe Adam will end up in Miami:
Pacman will be coming to Miami dolphins— LUTHER R CAMPBELL (@unclelukereal1) March 7, 2016
Jackson did note Luther's tweet in his report, adding, "The source declined to go that far but said Miami certainly has a chance to land him." The Dolphins did just trade for Philadelphia Eagles corner Byron Maxwell while cutting Brent Grimes, so there's still a need at corner for them going into next season.
It also helps Miami's cause that former Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph is now the Dolphins defensive coordinator. You can bet they'll be after several of the Bengals' defensive players.
In Jones' appearance on ESPN, he also discussed his free agency and what he wants from the team that signs him, as well as how he's overcame his struggles in life to get to this point.
"First and foremost, a team that really understands me and wants me as a person," Jones said, via ESPN. "I've been through a lot. I visit my past every day to make sure I don't go there."
When asked about Cincinnati specifically and possibly returning, Jones admitted his deal has to be fair as he looks to play at a high level for several more years.
"Of course, everyone knows where I wanna be," Jones said while insinuating he wanted to be back with the Bengals. "I want it to be right where I go. I love the city of Cincinnati. Mr. Brown has been really good to me. I just want it to be fair. The numbers gotta be fair. I just want to be treated fair. I'm not trying to break the bank. I truly feel I can play this game for 4-5 more years at the top level."
In addition to all of the aforementioned teams, the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders have been rumored to have some level of interest in Jones as well. As we inch closer to the official start of free agency on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. EST, when players can officially sign contracts, we'll see how successful the Bengals are at retaining one of their best players from 2015.