Each offseason, NFL teams are faced with the same million dollar question: how can we afford to keep key players without sabotaging our salary cap situation?
Such is the question the Ravens are facing with free agent defensive tackle/end Arthur Jones.
Since joining the Ravens in 2010, Jones has grown before our eyes and quietly turned into a star.
While it is likely Jones will get big money on the open market much like Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe did last offseason, can the Ravens really afford to let him go?
After a stand-out regular season in 2012, where he recorded 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks, the Syracuse product enjoyed a solid postseason as well. Jones’ nine total tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries (including one in the Super Bowl) proved crucial during the Ravens’ magical Super Bowl run.
The start of the 2013 season proved to be a scary time in Arthur’s life after the Ravens preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Art had a strange medical condition, which ultimately led to him missing the season opener against Denver.
“My heart was kind of racing and I just didn’t know why it wasn’t settling down after the game,” Jones said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun in September of 2013. “It was definitely scary with the medical conditions in my family. I’m just blessed to be able to play another down and to be back out here with my teammates. I couldn’t do anything for a while but it feels good to be back out here and give it everything I got.”
Jones did give it everything he had – and then some – in 2013. He played in 14 games, including a career-high 13 starts, and recorded a career-high 53 tackles (27 solo) five for losses and four sacks, the second-highest total of his career. Jones was also credited with 15 quarterback hurries.
While his stats weren’t gaudy, Jones certainly made his presence known on the field.
Off the field, Jones continues to give all he can back to the community. Jones can be found donating his time to the Casey Cares Foundation, collecting toys for families in need or supporting his teammates with their own charity endeavors.
A true class professional who always puts others before himself, Jones was named the team’s “Good Guy” award winner by local media in 2012 for his cooperation with reporters, with whom he never left a question unanswered.
Just how much money it will take to keep Jones isn’t known at this time; however, with former San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois landing a four-year, $22 million deal with the Colts in March of 2013, Jones could be seeking similar money considering he outplayed Jean-Francois in 2013.
If the Ravens fail to bring Arthur back in 2014, some lucky team will land one of the game’s hardest working, classiest players.
Yes, it’s unlikely. Still, I can only hope somehow, someway, the Ravens can figure out a way to bring Art back.
Follow me on Twitter @sportguyRSR