The New England Revolution has won the strange and lengthy race for U.S. national team midfielder Jermaine Jones, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told SI.com on Sunday, later confirmed on ESPN by Alexi Lalas. According to Lalas, Jones landed with New England after the club was selected in an unprecedented "blind draw" over the Chicago Fire.
Jones, like fellow U.S. national team members Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, wasn’t subject to the allocation order that determines which clubs have right of first refusal on U.S. internationals and former MLS players returning to the league. "Designated Players of a certain threshold – as determined by the League – are not subject to allocation ranking,” reads the MLS rulebook.
However, Dempsey and Bradley each had one primary suitor (Dempsey with Seattle, and Bradley with Toronto). According to ESPN, because both the Fire and Revolution were willing and able to sign Jones, MLS resorted to the heretofore unheard-of "blind draw" to determine Jones' destination.
ESPN reported Jones' deal with New England is for $4.7 million over one and a half years, but a source familiar with the negotiations told SI.com that the midfielder received “a few extra” hundred thousand dollars because of his deal with the Revolution. What isn't known is whether that extra money was paid to Jones as a condition of being unable to choose between New England and Chicago, or if it was paid as a result of the Revolution winning the draw -- Jones preferred to go to Chicago, but had rejected a multi-year, multi-million dollar offer from the club a little more than three weeks ago. According to Goal.com, Jones would have earned $6 million over two and a half seasons from that initial offer. But his refusal to sign that deal opened the door for New England, which currently sits a point outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture at 9-12-3.
The acquisition of Jones will change the perception of the Revolution around the league. Long considered a club that wouldn’t compete financially with the league’s more ambitious organizations, New England has paid a player more than $500,000 in annual compensation only once (Shalrie Joseph in 2012). It currently has no designated players on the roster now that forward Jerry Bengtson, who was earning just over $150,000 per year, according to the MLS Players Union, is on loan in Argentina.
Additional reporting by Brian Straus