| Detroit Free Press
He’ll need a new notepad, but as Marvin Jones gets ready for his second trip into unrestricted free agency this spring, the Detroit Lions‘ leading receiver said he will follow a similar process to the one that led him to Detroit five years ago.
Back then, Jones, coming off a breakout 816-yard receiving season, scribbled out a list of interested teams and his priorities as a player on a big, yellow legal pad: To go to a place he would have more opportunity to shine, to make more money while doing so, and to maybe be the missing piece to a turnaround.
The Lions, coming off a 7-9 season, with cash to burn and the recently-retired Calvin Johnson to replace, were the most exact fit.
“You look at different teams, you look at the needs of the teams,” Jones said. “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.”
While most free agents do not make it to the end of their contracts, Jones has lived up to the five-year, $40 million deal he signed with the Lions in March 2016.
He has 281 catches for 4,116 yards in 68 games over the last five seasons, and will play what could be his last game as a Lion against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Ford Field.
While Jones, 30, has not ruled out a return to Detroit, he acknowledged Wednesday that one of the factors that could weigh heavily into his decision is the chance to play for a contender.
In nine NFL seasons, Jones has played in three playoff games, all without a win; the Lions (5-10) are in the midst of their third straight losing season.
“That could most definitely be the reason,” he said. “But in free agency there’s nothing that’s out of the (picture). There’s nothing that you throw out, like, ‘OK, I’m not going to go to this team.’ Or, ‘I’m not doing this.’ Or, ‘I’m not doing that.’ So you have to really just keep an open mind and talk about the kind of things in mind that you want, and if a team can fulfill mostly all those things then it’ll be a right fit.”
After knee and ankle injuries cut short his 2018 and 2019 seasons, respectively, Jones has been healthy and productive this year.
He has a career-high 68 catches, leads the Lions with 798 yards receiving and seven touchdowns, and has proven himself a willing blocker in the run game.
The Lions have just two receivers under contract for 2021 — rookie Quintez Cephus and Geronimo Allison, who had his contract toll after opting out of this season for COVID-19 concerns — are expected to prioritize Kenny Golladay in free agency and may prefer to go in another direction with Jones, depending on the scope of their rebuild.
Jones said he does not feel like he has lost a step as a player.
“I got everything left,” he said.
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And if his time in Detroit is done, he said he wants to be remembered for the highlight plays he made and for “being a light” for teammates and fans.
“I think with the games that I’ve had, it’s the same games that I always have every year,” he said. “You guys seen me, I was 30 in camp and nobody could stop me. Just like I said, it’ll be the same for four or five years or however long I play, I’m going to be the same guy. And if I’m not, then you won’t see me. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. Just with what I’ve been through and these past weeks and stuff like that, I think I’ve still proven my worth. And I think in a few months, you guys will see it will reflect that.”