Free agent snapshot: Arthur Jones
|02.04.14 at 6:00 am ET|
When free agency begins in early March, there are a handful of players across the league who could appeal to New England. With the understanding that the status of these players could change because of the franchise or transition tag, here are a few possibilities for the Patriots to consider. We have to stress that these guys aren’t necessarily considered the elite of the free agent class — instead, they are players we think would be a good fit in New England. We started our series with looks at Anquan Boldin, Emmanuel Sanders, Dennis Pitta, Eric Decker and Jacoby Jones. Now, we go to the defensive side of the ball, and Arthur Jones.
Position: Defensive end
Age: 27 (will turn 28 on June 3)
Weight: 315 pounds
The skinny: The older brother of Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, Arthur was taken in the fifth round of the 2010 draft out of Syracuse, and has developed into one of the more underrated parts of Baltimore’s front seven over the last two years. He started 13 games this past season for the Ravens, and has 8.5 sacks since the start of the 2012 season. Not as long and lean as his brother (Chandler is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds), he’s able to generate pressure with his size, and has also a rep as a quality run-stuffer. A penetrating lineman, he had 38.5 tackles for a loss as a collegian, the most in Syracuse history for an interior lineman, and he had five this year with the Ravens to tie for the team lead. He has some positional versatility, as the Ravens have kicked him inside as needed, and has provided a boost with a consistent interior pass-rushing presence. A smart and versatile defender who has been able to flourish as a complementary part of the Baltimore defense, he would make a solid addition to most rosters at the right price.
By the numbers: 15. The number of quarterback hurries Pro Football Focus awarded Jones this past season, good enough to tie for third on the team. (For some perspective, that would put him third on the Patriots, behind Rob Ninkovich, who had 39 last year, and his brother Chandler, who had 39.)
Why it would work: The opportunity to play alongside a brother can be a powerful lure — the chance to have someone you know watching your back at all times might be the sort of thing that could attract the older brother to Foxboro. His versatility would allow the Patriots to do multiple things, including work him as a defensive tackle who could occasionally kick out to defensive end in relief of his brother Chandler or fellow defensive end Ninkovich. (There’s also the possibility New England could take advantage of Ninkovich’s versatility and move him to an outside linebacker spot if Arthur is needed as a defensive end.)
Why it might not work: While the Ravens aren’t expected to franchise him, Jones is expected to be one of the better free-agent defensive linemen on the market this year, and will almost certainly command serious money that could put him out of New England’s reach. In addition, playing alongside your brother can be an occasional double-edged sword — the questions for both would likely get tiresome pretty quickly. There’s also a semi-checkered injury history — he missed the 2013 season opener due to an irregular heartbeat, and knee and pectoral injuries that kept him out of much of the 2009 season as a collegian.
Quote: “I can’t say enough complimentary things about him as a person and as a pro. I think he’s one of the most improved guys that we have. From where he’s come to where he is now, he’s just vastly improved. There’s really not a time when we come out of a game saying, ‘Boy, I don’t know about that game.’ He’s had great performances every week.” — Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees on Jones’ 2013 season
Our take: It would likely take a good chunk of cash, but the idea of the Jones brothers together in New England would be intriguing. The Patriots need some help when it comes to building depth up front — Chris Jones, Joe Vellano and Sealver Siliga are good short-term fixes, but represent a considerable step down from the Vince Wilfork–Tommy Kelly combo that started the 2013 season for New England. Jones would represent a significant upgrade, and could work in relief of one of the defensive tackles and also spend time at defensive end. He’s already on New England’s radar, as he had a visit with the Patriots shortly before the 2010 draft. While that was a while ago, all the front office would need to do to update their files would be to ask Chandler for an update.