On Sunday, the question was officially answered.
Jones, a 2017 second-round pick, announced on Twitter that the Packers had instead opted to release him from the team, ending Jones’ two-season tenure and putting the 24-year-old on the market for a number of suitors in need of safeties.
The Packers also made their 90-man roster whole Sunday when they added linebacker James Folston and cornerback Jocquez Kalili, moves that follow Saturday’s release of rookie running back Darrin Hall.
The Packers were expected to boost a particularly thin inside linebacker group that was already down would-be starter Oren Burks and lost Curtis Bolton to a right knee injury during Thursday’s preseason disaster. Their central piece, Blake Martinez, also missed Thursday with an undisclosed injury deemed to be minor.
Less than a week remains before the 3 p.m. deadline for final roster cuts next Saturday, and the Packers still have one last preseason game to evaluate their talent this Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Bad Times Made Worse
Whether the Packers attempted to trade Jones and were unsuccessful isn’t known — and likely never will be — but the departure is one that comes disappointment in any scenario.
Leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, which saw the Packers select him in the second round, Jones had a standout junior season at NC State. He led the Wolfpack with 109 tackles and three interceptions — pushing his career total to eight — as a 6-foot-2, 210-pound free safety, putting him among the top 10 safety prospects in the draft pool.
By the end of the following NFL preseason, Jones was officially named the backup strong safety to Morgan Burnett after in May signing a four-year, $4.23 million deal with the Packers, debuting in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
Jones did fine his 2017 rookie year, finishing with 71 combined tackles, five pass deflections, two sacks and an interception — in a 27-21 victory at the Cleveland Browns in Week 14 — but things began to change in his sophomore outing.
After Burnett departed in free agency, Jones was expected to fill the starting strong safety role before Mike McCarthy named training-camp challenger Kentrell Brice the starter for the 2018 regular-season opener. Jones lost the first three weeks of the season and eventually reclaimed his starting role by Week 14, but finished with just 55 combined tackles on the year.
After the disappointing 6-9-1 finish, the Packers used resources in the offseason to significantly improve their safety pool with the additions of former Chicago Bear Adrian Amos and rookie Darnell Savage Jr., leading a disgruntled Jones to sit out of OTAs in a reported effort to force the Packers to trade him away.
While Jones had a change of tune at the start of training camp and claimed to be recommitted to the Packers, it didn’t take long for him to stir up problems again when he tackled Tra Carson during team drills against instructions from new head coach Matt LaFleur and was quickly benched.
Jones was ruled inactive for the first two preseason games and listed as “did not play” for the third on Thursday against the Oakland Raiders in Winnipeg.