Marvin Jones’ departure from the Bengals to the Lions after a failed attempt at extending his contract with Cincinnati has been one of the biggest storylines of the offseason. On Thursday, he and his former teammates had a chance to play each other again in an exhibition preseason matchup.
Although the Bengals ended up running away with the game by a score of 30-14, Jones played well enough to lead the Lions in catches, big plays, and total yards. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience for him, getting to see and play against his old teammates.
“It was just fun to see them,” Jones said after the game. “It is preseason. Probably, had it been the regular season, it would have probably meant more just with the extensive playing time, but it was good to see them and good to play against them.”
Jones’ time in Cincinnati was special and could have been really great if it weren’t for injuries. Still, he managed to start 21 games and catch 134 of the 215 passes thrown his way for 1,729 yards and 15 touchdowns in three mostly healthy seasons (2012-13, 2015). He also recorded 16 rushing attempts for 145 yards in that time.
That statline was a big factor in him pursuing an opportunity to agree to a five year, $40 million contract with the Lions in March. It’s a shame that he couldn’t work something out with the Bengals, but, in an article that he wrote for The Players’ Tribune, Jones explained that he will always remember Cincinnati fondly for giving him his first chance, but, “when free agency started getting closer and talks about re-upping with the Bengals hit a standstill” he had to explore other options.
Cincinnati will always be the team that took a chance on me. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity that the Bengals gave me to grow as a football player and as a man, and for the relationships I built there. No matter what happens in my professional career, it will always have started in Cincinnati.
Jones says 11 teams expressed interest in him including the Giants, Patriots, Falcons and Lions. But, there were a multitude of reasons that he liked the prospect of joining the Lions, which he wrote down on a notepad, along with notes on all other teams. He even watched film to help him make the decision. But, Calvin Johnson’s retirement was the reason he ultimately chose Detroit. In that notepad, next to where it said “Lions”, Jones wrote: IF CALVIN RETIRES: YES. But, that wasn’t the only thing he considered.
I’ll be honest: Money was a factor. You have such a short amount of time to play this game, and you have to take what you can get when you can get it.
Winning was a factor. I genuinely feel like this Lions team can win.
Playing time was a factor. And when Calvin retired, that opened things up and the Lions became the front-runner, and eventually, the team.
But when I was deciding, I thought about more than money, winning and playing time.
Still, his time with the Bengals was something worth treasuring. Living in Northern Kentucky and raising his young sons, Marvin and Mareon, in an environment where he was able to be a beloved football player, a great role model, and a friend to the other local kids, was great for him and his family. Leaving that behind for prospect of moving to a completely new team and city was not easy.
Leaving Cincinnati for Detroit was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I have the yellow pad to prove it. And maybe one day, I’ll share that with you guys. I’ll be old and retired, and I’ll clean out my office one afternoon and stumble upon that yellow pad, all scribbled on and buried in some drawer, and I’ll remember this process. I’ll relive all those incredible memories from Cincinnati, and hopefully by then, all the great memories I will have made in Detroit, too.
Ultimately, Jones felt like it was time for him to move on from the Bengals this offseason. But, even after all that he’ll admit that he wouldn’t have wanted to spend his first four years in the NFL anywhere else.
When I came into the league in 2012, even if I’d had a choice, I couldn’t have chosen a better franchise than the Bengals.
That’s why it was so much fun to see his Bengals family once again. Together, great things were accomplished during his time in Cincinnati. Though, Jones is ready for more than what he was able to do with the Bengals.
Ever since I first stepped on a football field, I’ve wanted to win a Super Bowl. And I haven’t done that yet, so I’m not satisfied. I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything in this league yet. There’s so much more I want to — and can — do. The possibility of being a key ingredient in helping build a championship team in Detroit is pretty exciting.
Hopefully, the Bengals win the Super Bowl sooner than later, and maybe Jones will win one with the Lions, too and achieve the goal he’s been unable to achieve so far in the NFL.
It’s always good to see old friends and revisit great memories and that’s what Jones did on Thursday night, leading the Lions in receiving with 65 yards on 4 catches. Of course, the Bengals didn’t make it too easy on him with big tackles as he marched down the field to remind him of the teammates he left behind. But, there are no hard feelings.
“We’ve been banging it out since I came in in 2012,” Jones said after the game. “It was good to see those guys.