For a guy the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense relies heavily on, Adam Jones hasn’t proven to be the most reliable of players. Even though he has largely turned his life around from the early years of career, Jones had another run-in with the law this past January. It’s caused him to miss the first game of the year with a suspension, paving the way for young players to step up early in the season.
Still, as Jones’ tumultuous NFL career winds down, the Bengals expect him to continue to play at a high level in 2017. Is he up to the task as he turns 34 years old at the start of the regular season?
Adam Jones profile:
Weight: 180 pounds
College: West Virginia
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Experience: Entering 11th season (not counting a one-year suspension in 2007.)
Draft Status: 2005 first round selection, No. 6 overall
Jones signed a three-year deal in the 2016 offseason worth $22 million. His cap hit for the Bengals this year is $7,766,666, which is manageable for a starting cornerback in the NFL. Cincinnati has an out, of sorts, after this season, which is interesting, given Jones’ whirlwind 2017 offseason.
While Jones has given the Bengals and their fans headaches with his antics on- and off-the-field since his arrival in 2010, he has also provided an All-Pro designation in 2014 and a Pro Bowl berth in 2015. It seems as if Jones truly tapped into his top-10 draft status since his arrival in Cincinnati and once the team gave him prominent roles on defense and special teams.
Still, the Bengals have two other first round corners in Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson III waiting in the wings. So, while Jones appears to be the guy the team is leaning on in 2017 for a starting role opposite of Dre Kirkpatrick, there are options readily available behind him. During his Week 1 suspension, one of those players will be given a chance to shine, and they may just outplay him. It should be an interesting year in Cincinnati for Jones...as if it hasn’t been already.
If the Bengals didn’t cut Jones after his run-in with the law and also didn’t do so after June 1st, which would have made it financially manageable, they aren’t cutting bait now. Even with his one-game suspension, owner Mike Brown appears to be committed to sticking with Jones for 2017 and possibly through the rest of his contract.
Jones won’t be suiting up in the season-opener against the Ravens, which is a shame, but he should be available for the rest of the season. And, as mentioned before, Jones hasn’t slowed down much with age, still performing at a high level in each of the last three seasons.
If Jones doesn’t perform like a top two cornerback on the roster, he can always be benched, but for now, expect him to be the starter when he returns from his Week 1 suspension.
Odds: 99 percent.