The Cincinnati Bengals have decided not to pick up the option for cornerback Adam Jones and let him hit free agency instead.
Geoff Hobson, the editor for the Cincinnati Bengals official website, tweeted out Thursday afternoon that the Bengals have told cornerback Adam Jones that they will not be picking up his option and he will hit the free agent market. The Cincinnati Bengals did say that they would like to bring him back to compete for nickel cornerback and returner in 2018, just not for the price of his option.
Jones was set out to make a cap hit of $6,447,918 in 2018 according to Spotrac.com. He ended the season on the Injured Reserve list with a groin injury and having hernia surgery this offseason. While not a major injury, Jones finished the season with a grade from Pro Football Focus of 47. Cornerbacks William Jackson, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Darqueze Dennard all ranked higher than Jones in 2017.
The Bengals found no reason to pay that much money to Jones in 2018 with Jackson, Kirkpatrick, and Dennard all on the roster. All three corners were also first round picks. The team has already made Kirkpatrick a top paid cornerback with a cap hit of $9,568,750 who we now know wasn’t ready to be a shutdown, left cornerback. The team picked up Dennard’s fifth-year option for 2018 making him top cornerback money as well with a cap hit of $8,526,000. It wouldn’t make sense for the team to spend even more elite type money on a cornerback who underperformed.
Jones wants to play somewhere in 2018 that he would be playing every down. With those three players being in their prime and all playing better than Jones, he likely wouldn’t see any time on the field barring injury.
With Jones likely not coming back to the Bengals in 2018, at least not for that kind of pay, it adds to the money the team can spend on players in the free agent market along with their own players they would like to re-sign. The biggest question for Cincinnati fans right now is whether they will use some of that money to make a splash in free agency, especially on an immediate impact offensive linemen which they desperately need.
If the Bengals want to reach a new deal with Jones, they have until March 14 before he hits the open market as an unrestricted free agent. They will still be able to sign him after the 14th but he will be able to talk to other teams as well.