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Ex-Cal Star Marvin Jones Jr. Reportedly Interested in Joining Rams

He might not link up with new Lions QB and former Golden Bears standout Jared Goff as anticipated

When Jared Goff was traded to the Lions for Matthew Stafford, the move seemed to create a passing combination of former Cal stars in Detroit -- Goff to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr.

Now it appears Jones might not let the Golden Bears connection materialize. Jones, who is coming off perhaps his best pro season, is a free agent this offseason, and there are reports he is interested in joining the Rams, the team that traded Goff away.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Sunday that a number of players have texted Stafford indicating they were interested in joining him with the Rams. Schefter added this:

One of those players expected to be interested in joining Stafford in Los Angeles is Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., per sources. Jones is scheduled to be a free agent this winter; he grew up in Fontana, California, and later attended Cal. The Rams and Jones seem like a natural fit even before free agency begins March 17.

Indeed, it does make sense. Jones and Goff were never teammates at Cal, with Jones' final season in Berkeley being 2011, which was two years before Goff arrived at Cal in 2013. Anyway, such college affiliations typically mean little to pro athletes seeking what is best for their careers.

As Schefter mentioned, Jones grew up in Fontana, which is in southern California, not far from Los Angeles, and he has played all eight of his NFL seasons (he missed 2014 with an injury) with Stafford as his quarterback. The Rams are a lot closer to a Super Bowl berth than the Lions are, and who wouldn't want to play at the glorious new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood in Sean McVay's creative offense? 

And the Rams might want him. Although he will be 31 in March, Jones had perhaps his best season as a pro in 2020. His 76 receptions led the Lions and were 11 more than his previous career-high season total of 65. And his 978 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches were both the second-best single-season marks of his career. 

Jones has a lot to consider as an unrestricted free agent, especially since this is likely to be his last contract.

“You look at different teams, you look at the needs of the teams,” Jones told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press in a story posted Dec. 31. “Maybe this time around you look for different things in terms of what you want and how I want to finish my career. I pretty much [will] do the same thing that I did last time, but this time it would be more about other things. So I think that’s going to be the situation and I’m excited to get there.”

There are other issues in play, such as the financial ramifications and the Rams' level of interest in another wide receiver.

Jones earned about $9 million in total income from the Lions in 2020, so he presumably would want something more than that as a free agent. The Lions' top priority at the position is Kenny Golladay, who also is a free agent. He played just five games in 2020 because of injury but has put up big receiving numbers in the past. Plus he is just 27 years old. The Lions will have to spend a lot to keep Golladay, making you wonder whether there would be enough left to satisfy Jones.

But would the Rams be willing to pony up to sign Jones?

Stafford might go to bat for Jones, but the Rams already have two established wide receivers under contract, because Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods both signed multiyear extensions just before the start of the 2020 season. Woods, who will be 29 next year, signed a five-year extension that will pay him a total of $13.8 million in 2021, and Kupp, who turns 28 in June, signed a three-year extension that could earn him $14.5 million next season.

Woods had 90 catches for 936 yards last season, while Kupp had 92 receptions for 974 yards.  So their statistics are similar to Jones'

The Rams could trade Woods or Kupp, but would they believe they were better off with Jones instead of Kupp or Woods?

The Rams have needed a deep threat to stretch the defense since Brandin Cooks left, and Jones led the league in yards per reception in 2017 (18.0 yards per catch). Jones' 12.9 yards per reception this season were not among his single-season career bests, but were still better than Kupp (10.6) and Woods (10.4).

Would Stafford have a say in the negotiations for Jones?

Tom Brady's voice apparently carried a lot of weight in Tampa Bay when the Buccaneers were considering adding receivers, but it remains to be seen whether Stafford will have that kind of power in Los Angeles and whether he would try to use it to acquire Jones.


Cover photo of Marvin Jones Jr. by Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports


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