Right Player, Wrong Price?

Jacoby SB TD Return

Jacoby Jones is scheduled to make $4 million this year and his cap figure is $4.9 million. He receives his first $1 million for 2013 if he is on the Ravens roster come September 5.


Some might argue and with good reason, that the Ravens are looking to bolster their receiving corps so why would the team consider releasing the player who some thought should have been Super Bowl XLVII MVP.

Ever wonder if there was more to that failed conditioning test back in July?

During OTA’s and a few times since, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has stated his intention to take the top off of defenses. That implies that with speed, the Ravens plan to stretch zone defenses to the point that it leaves them vulnerable to short and intermediate areas of the field.

But is part of that speed worth $4.9M of the team’s cap?

During practice and during the preseason so far we’ve seen several other players take reps in the return game, both punt and kick. Conventional thinking might suggest that special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg already knows what he has in Jones so why not see what the others can bring?

That seems reasonable.

But what if the Ravens are really trying to see if someone can competently handle the return duties without having to pay such a specialist $4M? What if the Ravens conclude that they could get 80% of Jacoby’s production from Bobby Rainey and/or Deonte Thompson for 20% (or less) of the cost?

Thompson’s speed can match that of Jones so that doesn’t take away from Caldwell’s desire to take the top off defenses. It shouldn’t be that difficult to replace 30 catches for 406 yards and a score (Jones 2012 receiving numbers) should it?

Now it’s unlikely that the Ravens would make such a move unless a receiver better than Jones drops in their lap, say by way of an aborted fax. But it’s possible.

And even if that doesn’t happen, might the Ravens have reason to go to Jones and ask him to take a pay cut, particularly if Jerry Rosburg is pleased with what he sees from others in the return game?

Clearly the valuable cap dollars could be used elsewhere, to bolster the roster with players discarded by other teams, hold the dollars in reserve for in-season moves or carry them forward into 2014.

The Ravens parted ways with a valuable player (Anquan Boldin) who they deemed unworthy of a $6 million salary – right player, wrong price.

Don’t be shocked if Jacoby Jones flunks this equation too.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

44 Raves on “Right Player, Wrong Price?

  1. Josh on said:

    I think they will retain Jacoby. At this point, with Pitta’s injury and Boldin now in SF, the familiar targets at Flacco’s disposal have dwindled. True, Jacoby is not a true threat as a receiver, but he is serviceable enough to utilize for at least this season.

  2. purplehaze420 on said:

    i hope that they can reach a reasonable extension for him. he has the skills to be a great player plus i would miss watching him dance

  3. John on said:

    You’re nuts. Our position of “need” is WR, and nobody we want is a available or we’d have signed them instead of Stokley. As for return duties, we learned first hand how hard it is to win playoff games when you lose the return game. See Denver, San Francisco.

    Besides, McClain makes a lot more sense.

    • Rumor Ray on said:

      John … pssst not to be a nag however you just stated and I quote “we learned first hand how hard it is to win playoff games when you lose the return game”. Please take a moment to remember a playoff game not that many years ago…….. Jacoby was a Texan???? Thinking this one out yet????

  4. melvin on said:

    Jones really isn’t a great receiver. as much as I love his personality, he’s a one trick pony with bad hands and poor route running abilities.

  5. Luke on said:

    To me, this seems like a massive stretch.

    #1) it’s bad form and the Ravens typically don’t operate that way. What message would it send to future free agents if the Ravens cut their Super Bowl hero and return -game superstar this close to the start of the season?

    #2) historically speaking, it breaks from the Raven precedent. There is no instance in the Harbaugh era where the Ravens have released a high-price veteran at this stage in the preseason.

    #3) Jones’ value has not decreased since the Ravens agreed to pay his $1million roster bonus in the spring. If anything, given the lack of impressing the younger WR group has done, his value to the franchise has increased.

    #4) The Ravens are not mathematically challenged. Paying his roster bonus of $1m and essentially doubling his dead money amount from $900k to $1.9m only to release him would be a move of Enron proportions. The only logic in doing that is if something had occurred during the months since his bonus was issued that depleted his value to the point where he was considered to be a “sunk cost”, and I don’t think we’re anywhere near approaching that point.

    #5) Perhaps most importantly, Jacoby’s big play value is game altering to an extent that is hard to quantify in terms of cap dollar amounts. For instance, there were four games last year that the Ravens won that they would have likely lost if Jacoby Jones hadn’t been such an enormous stud. Without his KO return against the Cowboys, the Ravens likely lose that game. Without his punt return in Pittsburgh, they lose that game as well in all likelihood. Without those two wins, or even one of those two, the Ravens may not even make the playoffs. Then in the playoffs, his extreme speed opposite of Torrey Smith made the “Flacco Fling” possible. Without Jacoby in that spot (Tandon Doss instead for instance), the Ravens absolutely lose that game and there is no Super Bowl. Then in the biggest game in Ravens history, he made two incredible plays to lead us to victory. Without either of those plays, let alone both, we very well could lose. So, by my math, that’s four games that the Ravens won last year that they likely would not have won had Jacoby Jones not been a part of the roster. If that number goes from 4 to 1 in 2014, he’s still worth every penny. If the Ravens win one more game as a result of having him on the team, $4.9 I still a bargain.

    • Chris on said:

      We are talking about the same organization that dumped their Superbowl winning quarterback the year after he won. I know the situation is a little different but Ozzie always puts business ahead of sentimental value. See Ed Reed, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, Jamal Lewis and the list goes on. All guys that contributed far more to the teams legacy than Jacoby has and all were let go because their production didnt match their pay. What I am saying is Superbowl hero or not, Jacoby has to earn his keep.

      • Luke on said:

        Chris, Dilfer was not a good starting QB. He won by virtue of not f-ing up. When it came to making simple 15 yard throws into the flat, he routinely threw the ball at his receivers feet. He was horrid in Super Bowl 35. Re-watch it you don’t believe me. All the other players mentioned above were not cut 23 days before the start of the season. Heap and Mason were July/August cuts in 2011, but that was only because of the CBA situation. It’s a much different thing to cut a player this close to a season than to part ways with them in March.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      Luke and Phil are correct in that the roster bonus has already been paid. Therefore the cap savings should the team decide to part ways with Jacoby would be $3M, not $4M.

    • John on said:

      You make too much sense. Especially on #1. Some people have a hard time understanding that we passed New England. The reason – THEY are no longer the preferred destination for veterans – WE are.

      NE created the blueprint for attracting veterans. Bischotti realized it, and perfected it (the Castle, and doing things the right way). In the meantime, NE has taken several steps back. Belichick is hated by most players in the league. And that’s the reason he hasn’t been able to shore up his defense.

      If the Ravens followed Tony’s lead, they’d take a step back, and someone else would take our place.


  6. Phil from Frostburg on said:

    I thought Jones got a $1m bonus in the spring. If so, I doubt he is a release candidate; It only makes sense if they can trade for a Steve Smith caliber kind of WR who has a big salary. Saving cap without improving the team at this late stage makes no sense.

  7. JPP on said:

    Nice job of framing it Tony. If the right player becomes available, why not. I just don’t see that happening. But it’s been a crazy offseason, nothing would surprise me.

  8. Rick S on said:

    I suspect the Ravens will want to retain the speed of Jacoby Jones, even though they may try to keep his speed at a better price.

  9. Nick B on said:

    Too bad Brandon Lloyd is reportedly a headcase. He’d be cheaper and he’s better than Jacoby as a receiver. Clearly something’s not right with him as teams have stayed away, but I’d be shocked if the Jets and/or Chargers aren’t checking him out.

  10. Navin on said:


    Sure Jacoby is one person who gets overly paid for his role. But I dont think Ozzie will release him without a reason to add depth to any of the position.

    We got very good depth in all the positions in Defense & ST.

    In Offense, We got good QBs, RBs, OL depth. Unless Ozzie wants to trade for any top tier WRs or TEs , i dont think Jacoby will get released.

  11. EdgarAllanPro on said:

    I think that an extension would be better for the team than an outright cut. With the team already in a spot where there would be trouble even fielding a worthwhile three-wide formation, there’s likely room for Jones next year as well. A new two to three year contract could reduce his cap number and give him a little more security and money.

    Like you said, it really would take a crazy fax machine or Jerry Jones falling off his rocker to get a wide out worth an outright cut. Unless LaQuan and Deonte really turn it on.

  12. Chris on said:

    Like Q, I dont think Jacobys production matches the salary. I honestly thought he would be gone by now. His contract was a glorified one year deal.

    • Luke on said:

      Again, the guy won four games for us last year over what his replacement would likely have done. If you pay a guy $4.9m towards your cap and his knack for the big play creates one extra win, you are getting a stupidly ridiculous value. Jacoby won four games for us last year that would have been losses if he wasn’t there. So even if he contributes nothing more than 30-40 catches for 400-500 yards a receiver, if he breaks one TD in the return game that wins us a game (like in Pittsburgh, against Dallas, and in the Super Bowl), he is worth every penny. When you have a salary cap of $120-125 million, committing $4.9million to your biggest offensive home run threat, is not a bad investment.

      • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

        I do think that Jacoby gets too much of the credit for his returns and the rest to the “teams” unit not enough. So if they think the “next man up” can provide 80% of the productivity for 20% of the price I can tell you that Steve Bisciotti has said point blank, “we’ll do that every time.”

        And let’s not forget that next season the Ravens will have cap issues. Unused cap dollars this season can be carried forward into next.

        • KH on said:

          Right, isnt Suggs and Ngata’s contracts coming up as far as price next season? Time to re-construct those after this season right? I see Suggs and Ngata as Ravens for life. Jacoby, not so much. Guy is fun to watch but only when he is on point and sadly to say that is not all the time. Houston tried him at WR and it did not work out. It look like Jacoby was scared of the ball against Tampa Bay and those were not floaters thrown his way like in the Denver and San Fran Games last season. Rainey showed us last week that he can take PRs/KRs, I say why not. Are we really paying over $4mil for a guy that has not locked down #2 WR yet and possibly has competition on Special Teams? Think about it Ravens fan. Will it really be bad if we cut ties with him? And everybody needs to stop narking on Stokley lol

      • Chris on said:

        Torrey Smith called, he would like to have a word with you. Biggest offensive home run threat? Your pouring it on a little thick. All I said in this post was that I did not expect Jacoby to still be here. At the time of his signing I dont think the Ravens had any intention of honoring that second year. The way it was structured it was clearly ment to be a one year deal. Teams dont back load two year deals that heavy for players they intend to carry.

        You talking about how the Ravens dont cut bait this close to the season. It was just last year that Bryant Mckinnie tweeted he was on his way out of Baltimore, just before the season started. The Ravens were genuinly on the verge of cutting their starting LT from the previous season, and that was a few days before the season started. It took at 12th hour deal to keep McKinnie here. So lets not pretend that the Ravens are above doing that, if they dont like a players price tag.

  13. bacchys on said:

    I’d be very surprised to see Jones released at this point in the NFL year. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them use other players as returners- $4 million is a lot to risk as PR or KR- but those are also the phases of the game where he has the most value.

  14. Anonymous on said:

    I guess I’ll just stop buying jerseys then, when you get rid of play makers that draws people to become fans in the first place….

    • Rumor Ray on said:

      Anon/ Eric … When you say Jersey do you mean $25 bootlegs or do you mean $99 purchased at Dicks true Nike Jerseys that look nothing like the “on the field” they claim to be?

      I do wear jersey to the game however I only buy LIFE Ravens like Suggs and Ngata now. Flacco is a great choice and Torry Smith is a great investment. Right now I would shy away from … Rice (out living his NFL years as a RB) and Dumervil (short pick up). I would invest in Elam 26 if you are looking for a different long term jersey.

        • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

          It’s highly unlikely that Ngata will be released in 2014. His cap number next season is $16M, a hefty number no doubt. But to let him go in 2014 would result in $15M in dead cap money a net gain of just $1M but then you would have to replace him and even an average defensive tackle would cost $1M+. Ngata is safe in 2014.

          Suggs on the other hand is approaching the 2013 season like a free agent. He’s playing for his contract. Next season the Ravens could opt to release Suggs and save $7.8M of his $12.4M cap figure. What he does this year will determine a lot.

          • Phil from Frostburg on said:

            I thought you could spread the cap hit over two years if cut after a certain date. It would still be onerous but perhaps plausible if planning for a cap increase in 2015

  15. spy on said:

    Tony is correct people,,,,,,,,,,,I’m surprised he is still here , I never thought he was worth his contract price this year,,,,,,,, I see a deal to restructure much like they did with Bryant last year , you don’t pay all this money to a receiver with unreliable hands and I believe there are returners on this team already that come close to his return ability,,,,,,,,,a restructure is in his future,,,,,,,,

  16. paulie on said:

    “But is part of that speed worth $4.9M of the team’s cap?”
    Only if he catches the ball often enough to force defenses to respect (fear) the threat. So far this camp – not so much so . . .

    • paulie on said:

      Before I forget, Deonte Thompson is not an answer. He is a ‘body catcher’, scary enough as a wide receiver and totally unacceptable as a returner.

  17. Ed on said:

    How many playmakers do the Ravens want to lose in one offseason? There’s a good chance the Ravens lose the Dallas and Pittsburgh games last year without Jones’ returns for TD. That’s 8-8 right there and out fo the playoffs. Not to mention Jones’ TDs against Denver and San Fran in the playoffs.

    For a player of Jones’ ability, getting 80% from other players won’t cut it. Jacoby is threat to take it to the house everytime he touches the ball. 30 catches for 406 yards is irrelavent because it’s his playmaking ability you are paying for. I’m sure Deonte can run just as fast, but there’s no guarantee that Deonte has the same play making ability.

    IMO, cutting Jacoby Jones or asking him to take a paycut it a really bad idea. I can agree with the Boldin move, but the Boldin move looks really bad if they lose Jacoby Jones as well.

  18. rocky m on said:

    we`re in a bind at wideout,so jones is going nowhere…that said,the guy couldn`t beat out a thoroughly pedestrian kevin walter in houston…..he caight 30 passes last year and that was “with ” boldin,pitta and smith getting most of the defensive attention…….

    this year,he`ll be a major focus…and based on houston`s lack of interest,i doubt the guy becomes aj green at 39…

    i`m disappointed that the front office miscalculated the wide receiver talent we had on the roster in a draft season that was chock full of wide receiver talent…

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