Thomas Jones showed up at Jets workouts this week, as his agent Drew Rosenhaus promised last week, but he left without talking to the media. In an unusual move, the Twitter-obsessed Rosenhaus hasn't tweeted about it either. That means there's no inkling about whether Jones will keep showing up at workouts, or if there was part of one of the odder negotiating stances in recent history.
There's not much question that, devoid of context, $900,000 isn't very much money for the AFC's leading rusher to make in 2009. Add in the context, i.e. Jones' choice to sign a deal that paid him a relative pittance for this season, and it becomes much more difficult to empathize with the running back's plight. Rosenhaus and Jones can argue until they're blue in the face that Jones has outperformed his contract, but that ignores the fact that he was paid well for the two seasons that he's actually played to this point in time. Perhaps the NFL's contract structure is unfair to players, but Jones doesn't provide the best case study.
The Jets are totally justified in taking a hard line on the subject of a new contract for Jones, especially with the more pressing Leon Washington negotiations on the table at the same time. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be a bit flexible, though. Other players watch what happens in these discussions, and the Jets can't continually find themselves wearing the black hat without some repercussions.
That's why a compromise would make sense for everyone involved. Bob Glauber of Newsday offers up a proposal that makes a lot of sense.
What if the Jets simply move the $3 million roster bonus from next March into this year - or simply guarantee that the money be paid, thereby giving Jones a $3.9 million deal this season. That's still less than half the yearly average of Jaguars newly-signed running back Maurice Jones-Drew's four-year, $32.8 million deal, yet it's a far better reflection of Jones' value to the Jets.
It wouldn't eliminate Jones' fear of being released after the 2009 season, but it would allow him to realize more of the money from the deal he originally signed. The Jets might not like re-doing a deal for a veteran with two years left, but it would guarantee that their running game is at full strength this season. Everyone gives something, everyone gets something and everyone can move on.