As wonderful a player as Odell Beckham Jr. is, it became increasingly obvious during the 2015 season that the New York Giants need a reliable No. 2 wide receiver to complement him. There are a few potential free agents who could possibly fill that role. Today's let's talk about Marvin Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jones, who turns 26 in March, is a 6-foot-1, 198-pound four-year veteran. He caught a career-high 65 passes for 816 yards (12.6 yards per catch) and four TDs for Cincinnati in 2015 as the team's No. 2 wide receiver behind A.J. Green. Green missed the 2014 season with a foot injury, but had 51 catches, 10 for touchdowns, in 2013.
Spotrac puts Jones' Calculated Market Value at $22 million over four years, an average annual salary of $5.5 million. Here is what Spotrac says of Jones' impending free agency:
Calculated: 4 years, $22M ($5.5M AAV)
Likely: 4 years, $20M ($5M AAV)
Jones has flown under the radar behind A.J. Green and to some degree Mohamed Sanu's shadows over his past four years in Cincy. But when targeted he's been extremely reliable, including reeling in 70% of his opportunities in 2015. He scored 10 TDs in 2013 before missing all of 2014 with injury. He potentially heads to free agency as the second best available WR.
Pro Football Focus does, in fact, list Jones as the second-best wide receiver on the free agent market. PFF's description of Jones' talents is one that might make him intriguing for the Giants:
Jones is coming off a season with career-highs in receptions and yards. The Bengal had a breakout season in 2013 with 10 touchdowns. He proceeded to miss the entire 2014 season with injury, but had a solid rebound in 2015. Part of what makes Jones a good option is his ability to make defenders miss after the catch. Typically, the top receivers in missed tackles caused are a combination of the elite outside receivers or the slot receivers. Jones rarely lines up in the slot, and was in the top 20 in missed tackles in both 2013 and 2015. While a team probably shouldn't use him as their No. 1 receiver, he makes a very good second option.
Rueben Randle caught 57 passes for the Giants, but his inconsistency has long been a source of irritation. He is an unrestricted free agent, and it would be a surprise if the Giants retain him. Victor Cruz missed another season with a calf injury and his future is murky. Dwayne Harris (36 catches last season) is a nice complementary receiver but probably not a 60-70 reception guy.
Jones appears to be looking forward to free agency, having stated that there would be "no hometown discount" given to the Bengals.
"I'd like to be back, but at the same time I am a free agent - no hometown discount, definitely not - but I'm a free agent," Jones told NFL Media's Scott Hanson. "It wouldn't be good for me not to test the waters a little bit. So it's just an exciting process."
There have been reports that Jones may be looking for $7 million per year, but the wide receiver has refuted that claim. For reference, Golden Tate signed a five-year, $31 million deal with the Detroit Lions in 2014. Eric Decker signed a five-year, $36.25 million deal with the New York Jets that same offseason. Decker has had four straight seasons of 74 or more catches, three of those seasons with 80 or more. Jones hasn't matched that level of production. Tate's career high in receptions when he signed his deal had been 64 with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013. He caught 99 and 90 passes for the Lions the past two seasons.
Perhaps Tate's deal, which is still a significant investment, is the model for Jones. Would he be worth that for the Giants?
Your thoughts, Giants fans?