General manager Reggie McKenzie surprised the fan base on Monday with the signing of wide receiver James Jones to a three year contract with the Oakland Raiders totaling $11.3 million dollars. It was definitely an unexpected move on McKenzie’s part, but it’s definitely showing that he’s got a plan in place.
In the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Jones out of San Jose State University. In his senior year in 2006, Jones had his breakout season at SJSU with 70 receptions totaling 893 yards and ten touchdowns. His senior year saw Jones earn the offensive Most Valuable Player at the inaugural New Mexico Bowl with six catches for 106 yards and two TDs.
He went to SJSU on a full athletic scholarship out of Gunderson High school in San Jose where he lettered in basketball, track, and foot ball. His senior year of high school saw him earn the team’s MVP title as quarterback. While at SJSU, his teammates gave him the nickname of Dingo referencing a muscular professional wrestler called the Dingo Warrior. Jones earned this nickname after impressing teammates during his first time in the weight room when he bench pressed 225lbs a whopping 16 times.
Jones was named a starter immediately for the Packers and finished his career with them logging 310 receptions for 4,305 yards and 37 TDs. His first NFL touhdown came from quarterback Brett Favre in week four against the Minnesota Vikings. He finished his rookie season with 47 receptions totaling 676 yards with two TDs and was announced as the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the week for the games played on October 28-29, 2007.
The following season, Jones was listed as the number three receiver on the depth chart behind Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. In 2011, Jones was a free agent and it was widely speculated that he would seek a higher salary with another team, but he signed a three year contract with the Packers and went on to start all 16 regular season games in 2012. Jones posted career high numbers in the 2012 season with 64 receptions totaling 785 yards with 14 TDs and his TD receptions led the entire NFL. He even logged his first three TD game against the Chicago Bears.
Jones has one older sister Desiree and he and his mother spent part of his childhood moving between various homeless shelters finally moving in with his paternal grandmother in order to help his mother to get back on her feet. Because of these obstacles that he overcame while growing up, he has become very actively involved in community events.
He has done multiple public speaking events for the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay as well as to the cadets at the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy, and to the students at Appleton (Wis.) North High School about the challenges that he faced while growing up. Jones has also assisted with a skills camp for children of the Boys and Girls Club, helped to refurbish the Green Bay West High School football field as part of the Home Depot Neighborhood MVP Program and he also helped with the improvements at the Golden House which is a local domestic abuse shelter, as part of the local United Way’s NFL Hometown Huddle.
Outside of these events, Jones and his wife Tamika also have their own charity called Love Jones 4 Kids. They started this foundation in 2008 and since its inception, Jones’ wife Tamika has been the one working to put Jones’ vision into action along with volunteers. They have seen the foundation grow to positiviely affect the lives of many children. Their foundation is a non-profit community based organization focusing on the needs of children in both the Green Bay and the San Jose communities. The mission of their foundation is to enrich the lives of children living in under served communities by conducting and sponsoring a variety of programs thereby helping young people overcome obstacles and stay in school in order to prepare for life’s challenges.
Jones comes to the Raiders joining the receiving corps of Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, and Greg Jenkins. It will be interesting to see how the young players react to the new veteran coming into the team. Raider Nation had been impatient with the beginning of free agency due to the non-action on McKenzie’s part, but it would seem that McKenzie is turning things around making five signings over the course of four days. Padding the team with veterans who will be receiving two to three year contracts leaves the team open to drafting young talent into a team with veterans poised to impart knowledge to the younger players to facilitate growth.