Datone Jones sour over transition from Packers to Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — New Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Datone Jones says the Green Bay Packers didn’t show serious interest in re-signing him until they learned he was meeting with the Vikings.

That was the crux of Jones’ explanation of his transition from Titletown to a city that hasn’t won a championship in the four major sports since 1991 (Minnesota Twins). He tells the Associated Press that as soon as he met with coach Mike Zimmer and rest of Minnesota’s staff, he was convinced he should sign with the Packers’ rival.

“I don’t think they really made a strong effort until I took a visit to Minnesota,” he said. “I think once I came to Minnesota, my mind was actually made up. Once I sat down with Coach Patterson, I think my mind was made up right then and there.

“Once I sat down with Coach Zimmer [and] the rest of the coaching staff, I think my mind was pretty much made up. I had some of the best years I could ever have in Green Bay, and I thank the Packers organization for those great years, but you know, I think it was just time for me to move on with my life and come somewhere new and get a new start.”

We may never know what offers Green Bay had on the table for Jones, but he signed with Minnesota on a one-year, $3.75 million deal after a productive “contract year” with the Packers. He logged 17 tackles, a sack, and two passes defensed in 2016. Much of that had to do with converting to more of a hybrid or “elephant” role that year, where he started a career-high four games.

But he’ll be reverting back to a familiar role once he arrives in Minnesota. Zimmer anticipates Jones will be moved to an interior lineman position in their 4-3 scheme, similar to what he ran in UCLA before being drafted in the first round by the Packers in 2013.

Green Bay OLB Datone Jones signs with the Minnesota Vikings

The Green Bay Packers have lost another one of their free agents.

ESPN’s Adam Shefter was the first toe report that outside linebacker Datone Jones has signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Jones, a first-round pick in 2013, played defensive end for the first few years of his career before moving to outside linebacker. He finished his career with nine sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.

The NFL Network reported the contract Jones got with the Vikings is a one-year, $3.75 million deal that could reach $5 million with incentives.

With Jones now gone, the Packers have lost/let walk six unrestricted free agents — guard T.J. Lang (Lions), safety Micah Hyde (Bills), center J.C. Tretter (Browns), running back Eddie Lacy (Seahawks), outside linebacker Julius Peppers (Panthers).

Packers Family Night provides glimpse at 2016 team

GREEN BAY, Wis. — In front of a sold out crowd of nearly 67,000 at Lambeau Field Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers held their annual Family Night practice, displaying some strengths and weaknesses of the 2016 squad.

One of the positive takeaways from Sunday night’s festivities was the play of outside linebacker Datone Jones, who converted from a true defensive lineman role and dropped about 20 pounds in the process, down to 275. Jones appeared quicker off the ball and better in coverage, both aspects of his game he hoped to improve by playing the hybrid “elephant” linebacker role.

With receivers Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery sidelined by injuries, Davante Adams got to flash his skills with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball, hauling in passes of 26 and 35 yards. But during the two-minute drill, Adams’ night unraveled, dropping a pass for a would-be first down and also misjudging the ball for a sure touchdown grab.

“The first one I definitely should’ve come up with,” Adams said. “I think I just misjudged it in the lights. It kept soaring up. The other one was a stretch. I laid out for it but couldn’t come up with up.”

For the second year in a row, punter Tim Masthay will be in a competition for the starting job, jockeying for depth chart position with rookie Peter Mortell. After a sub-par 2014 season, Masthay came back in 2015 to set a franchise record 40.2 yards per punt. However, inconsistencies meant exploring other options and Mortell showed his leg late in the practice with an unofficial 54 yard punt.

Packers Decline Fifth-year Option For Datone Jones

By Eric Rogers
May 3, 2016
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers have declined the fifth-year option for the contract of defensive end Datone Jones.
It marks the third consecutive year the Packers have declined options on a former first-round draft pick. In three seasons, Jones had 38 tackles, eight sacks, one interception, and a fumble recovery.
Declining his fifth-year option doesn’t neccesarily mean Jones is done in Green Bay. He’ll play the 2016 season with a chance to earn another contract. Sources speculate he could transition from defensive end to a hybrid linebacker, much the way Julius Peppers did.
Jones was suspended one game to start the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Green Bay selected another UCLA product in this year’s draft | defensive end Kenny Clark, who could end up being Jones’ eventual replacement.