James Jones is headed to Oakland. And Cam Newton has to be wondering if the Panthers' front office has any plans to find him a wide receiver this offseason.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Raiders snatched up Jones, rather unexpectedly, with a three-year deal on Monday. The ex-Packer, who led the league with 14 receiving touchdowns during the 2012 season, finished last year with 59 catches for 817 yards and three scores. Jones moved his way up the Green Bay depth chart to claim a starting job for the '12 season, then combined with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb (when all were healthy) to give Aaron Rodgers one of the league's best receiving corps.
Jones, 30 years old later this month, told Josina Anderson this weekend that he had an eye on the developments in Carolina, where the Panthers had cut Steve Smith and lost both Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon LaFell in free agency.
"I would love the opportunity to play for the Carolina Panthers," Jones said. "I would love to play with Cam [Newton]."
Newton likely would have welcomed Jones' presence with open arms. As the Panthers' roster shapes up at the moment, the remaining receivers accounted for zero catches during the 2013 season.
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Jones could be in for a bit of a rude awakening in Oakland, away from Rodgers' talent and without the benefit of Nelson and Cobb drawing attention elsewhere. That said, in Jones, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore and Rod Streater, the Raiders may have an underrated collection of talent out wide.
The issue, as it has been for several seasons out in the Black Hole, will be who exactly throws them the football. Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin look like the frontrunners for that gig at the moment -- which almost certainly puts Oakland in the market for a QB in the 2014 draft, be it with the No. 5 pick or elsewhere.
Whichever player winds up slinging it for the Raiders will have the benefit of a reliable weapon in Jones.
Grade: A-minus. No final judgements until the financial numbers roll in, but given how much Oakland had free under the cap, it's hard to imagine anything looking too awful here. The Raiders really swooped in on this one, as Jones was the top remaining free-agent WR and should add stability to a young position.
Give a little credit to Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie. He missed out early in free agency, including with that Rodger Saffold botch job
(one that left the Raiders scrambling on the O-line), but he's recovered to add some quality players over the past few days.