Is Matt worth it? I don't know but he's certainly an intriguing option.
Since being Drafted in the First Round in 2005 expectations were high for Matt Jones'. His freakish athletic skills (Combine measured 6'6” 242 pounds, 4.37 Forty, 391/2” Vertical) and the potential they brought got him Drafted much higher than his play at Quarterback in college would have. Big things were expected and Jones', so far, has failed to deliver and subsequently he's often labeled a bust. But just how bad has Jones actually been when you look at his stats and consider that, regardless of his Draft position, this is a college QB transitioning to NFL WR.
While Matt has never been dominant he hasn't been nonexistent either.
In Four seasons he has; 166 catches, 2153 yards (13.0 avg) and 15 Td's.
In comparison, Patrick Crayton in Five seasons has; 159 catches, 2266 yards (14.3 avg) and 18 Td's.
Now who would argue that Patrick Crayton, at least in 06, 07, and 08, has had a better QB throwing him the ball and a much more pass happy offense than Jones had in Jacksonville.
In 2008 Jones had his best season and showed that, while he'll probably never live up to his first round billing, he's still capable of being a good #2. He had 65 catches and 761 yards and 2Td's in 12 games (10 starts) and was one of the few bright spots on his unit (passing offense) for a poor season for Jacksonville. That's a solid season and a better one than any of Dallas' current WR's, bar Roy Williams, has ever had.
Matt Jones Playoff experience.
His rookie year Wildcard Playoff performance against New England, in a game in which NE dominated, was good; 6 catches 94 yards 15.7 avg, longest 41 yards. He also had 3 catches for 48 yards and 1 Td, 16.0 avg, longest 29 yards, two years later in a Divisional Playoff game (another loss to NE).
While Jones' 9 catches for 142 yards and 1Td might hardly seem like much Playoff experience consider this; Roy Williams has never been to the playoffs, Patrick Crayton has 6 catches for 69 yards and 1 Td (plus a few crucial drops and an unforgettable failure to complete game winning route) in two games, Miles Austin has 0 catches in two appearances, Sam Hurd has 0 catches in two appearances, and Isiah Stanback was of course injured and missed his chance in 07. Jones' has more Playoff receptions and yards than all the Dallas Cowboy WR's combined.
With his play on the field seemingly on the up-swing why has the still young (26 years old) WR found himself on the free Agent market? Answer; Drug suspension then broken probation.
Matt Trouble Summary; Matt did crack, Matt got caught, Matt got convicted and Matt got suspended by the NFL. While on probation Matt drunk some beers and failed an alcohol test and that was against the rules. Matt went to jail for 5 days, Jaguars say bye-bye Matt and the NFL fined Matt 50,000. Matt stupid, Matt now Free Agent.
While Matt Jones' has made mistakes I don't know if they're bad enough to cross him off the list of consideration. Gerald Sensabaugh, another player Jacksonville let go for off-field reasons, has had a similar experience and has already been picked up by the Cowboys. Sensabaugh career has taken a similar path to Jones' as well (minus the high draft pick). Like Matt, Gerald had an up and down first three years but put together a good fourth year in 2008. Like Matt, even though his unit (pass defence) was poor, he was considered one of the few bright spots. Like Matt though, he also found trouble.
Gerald Trouble Summary; Gerald speeds a lot, Gerald got caught a lot, Gerald had unlicensed gun, Gerald lost license, then Gerald got caught driving without license but Gerald had learned something, this time the guns found in his car were legal! Well done Gerald :) Gerald stupid but learning, Gerald not resigned by Jacksonville, Gerald now Dallas Cowboy.
Now everyone has their own opinions when it comes to off-field discretions about what is acceptable and what isn't. Personally I'm not overly bothered by either Matt's or Gerald's offenses. Matt dabbled in drugs, big deal. Most people have. He never hurt anybody or (as far as I know of the circumstances) didn't behave in a dangerous or aggressive, threatening way. His probation violation of having a few beers while dumb on his part, because whether he likes it or not that's what Big Brother demanded and Big Brother will not allow itself to be ignored, is hardly a big deal. Gerald frequently sped, big deal. Most people have. He never hurt anybody or (as far as I know of the circumstances) behaved in a aggressive, threatening way. His driving without a license while dumb on his part, because whether he likes it or not that's what Big Brother demanded and Big Brother will not allow itself to be ignored, is hardly a big deal. Gerald, hopefully in a sign that he's learning from his earlier mistake with firearms, now seems to have the correct permits for his guns.
While I can plainly see that these guys are both risky signings, because both have shown a tendency to repeat behavior that their current employer (the NFL) has clearly stated is unacceptable, I don't think there's nearly enough evidence to label these guys as bad or crazy. Perhaps just a little stupid. And we all know if we took all the stupid players out of football that'd only leave us with Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Jason Witten and Felix Jones, a great offense for sure, but who would they play against?
Why Jones and Sensabaugh concern me much less than the like of TO and Pacman is that neither seem to have anywhere near the raging egos or big mouths that those guys had. I've never heard either off them causing locker-room friction (though I'm open to correction hear).
Sensabaugh also signed a relatively cheap one-year deal and can be easily cut if any more discretions arise and the team wishes to part ways. In the meantime though he's an improving young player with some experience at a position of dire need for Dallas.
I see Matt Jones' the same way. He could be signed to a relatively cheap one-year deal so he can be easily dismissed if he messes up again. In the meantime though he would be a young improving player with some experience at a position of need for Dallas.
Some Jacksonville fans were disappointed with the release of Jones (and with Sensabaugh too). It seems that while many were calling for Jones' head after the 2007 season he became the teams most dependable WR in 2008 and changed some people's minds. After years of watching his inconsistency and apparent lackadaisical approach some claimed they saw a new Jones in 2008, one who was becoming a solid player and just as that began to happen and the future just maybe looked brighter for the Jags 1st Rounder, the team gave up on him.
Will Matt Jones be a Cowboy?
As a First Round Pick was Jones' a good investment, no way. He'd never even played the position that he was Drafted for. He was all potential and no proof (I suppose all Rookies are but Jones' much more so than the average draftee).
As a cheap Free Agent, however, he can and does offer some interesting skills. Is Matt Jones a dominant player, will he become one, would he solve all our WR problems? I'd say it's very safe to assume the answer to these questions are No, No and No.
But let's ask some relevant questions; is Dallas' WR depth questionable, is injury history a concern for Dallas' WR's, has Matt Jones become a solid WR, could a solid and experienced WR help this team? I'd say the answers here are Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.
Personally, I'm still on the fence on this one a bit. I'm certainly interested but there is a character risk here. Without actually knowing the guy personally it's difficult to know how big that risk is. Dallas seems to be pretty serious about gathering hard working, trouble free players but has also shown their still open to the idea of a more risky signing of a low-key young player. This is one of those situations were I'll be happy whatever the team decides because they'll be able to get way more personal information and game footage of Matt than I could ever get.
So, will Matt Jones be a Dallas Cowboy?