On Tuesday afternoon, Thomas Jones' agent told NFL.com that he and the Jets had been having discussions about the running back's desire for a new contract and hinted that Jones would return to Jets practice in the near future. Those hints became facts later in the day when Drew Rosenhaus tweeted that Jones would rejoin his teammates next Wednesday.
It's the best move for both sides. The Jets get closer to full participation as they work toward next season, and Jones shows that he's willing to do what it takes to get the new contract that he wants. Staying away would ensure that the situation would become acrimonious, forcing the Jets to draw a line in the sand to keep other players from following in his footsteps down the road.
We wonder if Jones' change of heart has anything to do with the news that the Jets and Alvin Keels, agent for Leon Washington, met face-to-face on Monday. If Washington came to camp and started working with the first team while Jones kept dragging his feet, it would make it that much harder for the veteran to regain his role in the starting lineup. For a player who is rightfully worried about being unemployed when the 2009 season ends, that would have drastic consequences.
To get a deal done you've got to make compromises, although it's a fair argument that showing up for work is less of a compromise than it is an admission that actively trying to hurt your team is as likely to get you fired as it is to get you a new contract. It still represents a good faith gesture, however, and one that the Jets should meet with an effort to see if there's a way to resolve the dispute to both sides' satisfaction.
There's a growing trend of Jets players wanting new contracts while the team is lavishing free agents with lucrative deals. Those moves have been justified, but widespread discontent on the roster doesn't do the team any good in the long run.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.