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  • Hawks got our problem, too

    Les Carpenter / Times staff columnist
    Camp-cutting Jones due for appearance

    In the past, he used to push trucks through the Alabama sun. This was how Walter Jones spent the holdout summers, somewhere finding the perfect technique for stonewalling a pass rusher by putting his gigantic palms on the tailgate of a 4x4 and shoving with all his might.

    No one around the Seahawks knows what their best player, the one with all the Pro Bowls, has been doing these last few months. Mainly because no one around the Seahawks has seen or talked to Walter Jones. But the season is starting soon, and one of these days they figure they'll see him walking in through the parking lot, bag in hand, ready to play.

    Yesterday, coach Mike Holmgren was asked if he had heard from his starting left tackle. He laughed.

    "No, I haven't," he said.

    Then he smiled.

    "Usually I hear from one of you guys," Holmgren said. "His agent will tell someone something."

    But other than a brief, noncommittal conversation with this paper yesterday, Jones' agent, Roosevelt Barnes, has offered nothing.

    Nobody even believes this is about money anymore. The last two summers, when Jones sat home, the warm days were filled with demands for millions, for a record-breaking signing bonus and a Seahawks refusal to shatter its salary cap for a single player, even if that player was vital to making its offense move. After Seattle gave Grant Wistrom $14 million in guaranteed money this winter, it would have seemed Jones was justified in asking for a pile of money the size of Mount Rainier.

    Strangely, there has been no talk of money this summer. Jones just packed his bags as he does every January and disappeared. If the Seahawks and Barnes have discussed a contract in that time, they have kept those negotiations awfully quiet.

    The presumption is that Jones has simply grown accustomed to missing training camp and likes the idea of life without two-a-days and sleeping on tiny beds in a college dorm. And since he has been able to stroll in sometime in early September the last two seasons and still manage to make the Pro Bowl, well, why not do it again?

    This seems to be a growing trend around the league. Players like Jones, who have been designated their team's franchise player and therefore are not allowed to be free agents, have the luxury of holding their employers over a barrel. Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson missed all of the Raiders' training camp, as did St. Louis tackle Orlando Pace.

    It's the best scam in football: miss camp and get paid.

    In Jones' case, the payout will be a little more than $7 million for this season — a fine sum but paltry compared to the tens of millions he could make if he signed a long-term contract. But what's a few more million when you can miss training camp instead? Especially when you are already fabulously rich beyond belief?

    Officially, the Seahawks' line on Jones is that they expect him back for the start of the season. The only piece of supporting evidence for this stance is a conversation with some of his teammates in which he presumably said "I'll see you September 1."

    Well it's Sept. 1, and the Seahawks' best player better get into town if all these Super Bowl dreams are going to have any chance of coming true. Seattle finished its last real practice of the preseason yesterday. The next time the Seahawks wear their pads to the practice field will be this weekend — just a week before the season begins. And even then might be too late.

    So far Jones has been able to amble into the locker room in September and have everything be fine. But he is 30 now, and 30 is an age that is not good to football players. Joints wear down at 30, muscles pull easier, bones have a greater tendency to snap.

    Sure, Jones has been able to save himself another summer of twice-daily collisions on the practice field and four exhibition games. But no matter how many trucks you push, you can't duplicate the force a 300-pound defense end creates when he thunders around the line. One of these days, Jones isn't going to be able to stroll into camp and have everything be fine.

    There is a trap looming for these Seahawks, who seem to be a popular favorite to play in the Super Bowl in Jacksonville despite winning just two road games last year. They start the year in New Orleans and Tampa, which are difficult places to play, and they are also teams with two of the best pass rushers coming around the left side, the Saints' Darren Howard and the Buccaneers' Simeon Rice. Running a passing offense on the road against Howard and Rice without Jones — or with an out-of-shape Jones — is football suicide.

    The Seahawks do not have a forgiving-enough schedule to afford starting the year 0-2.

    So the moment of truth has come: Because if this is really still about money, then both sides need to lift the cloak of silence.

    And if it's not, then the time has come for Walter Jones' summer vacation to end
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • #2
    Re: Hawks got our problem, too

    They start the year in New Orleans and Tampa, which are difficult places to play, and they are also teams with two of the best pass rushers coming around the left side, the Saints' Darren Howard and the Buccaneers' Simeon Rice. Running a passing offense on the road against Howard and Rice without Jones — or with an out-of-shape Jones — is football suicide.
    As Avenger has pointed out in other posts, it's a good thing the Cards & Falcons don't have problematic pass rushing. I figure Pace stands a better chance with their pass rush than Jones does with Howard and Rice.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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    • Nick
      PFT.com: Seahawks will NOT franchise Jones
      by Nick
      'HAWKS WON'T FRANCHISE JONES AGAIN

      Word around the league is that the Seahawks will not place the franchise tag on left tackle Walter Jones for a fourth straight year.

      Since 2002, Jones has pocketed well over $20 million through a series of one-year tenders. His agent justified the refusal to accept Seattle's best long-term offer by explaining that, as the franchise player, Jones would make over a three-year period as much or more than he would have made under the first three years of a long-term deal. And then instead of being in the fourth season of that long-term deal, Jones can sign a long-term deal and pocket an eight-figure signing bonus.

      But if Jones signs a long-term deal, it apparently won't be with the Seahawks.

      The most obvious reason for Seattle's coming decision not to keep Jones is that, under the franchise system, his one-year cap number will inflate from $7.1 million to $8.5 million, which reflects a 20-percent increase over his current salary. With several key players set to become unrestricted free agents, the Seahawks simply can't afford to tie up that much money in one guy.

      But we're also hearing that the Seahawks have grown weary of Walter's ways. They don't like the fact that he has skipped camp in each of the last three seasons while wearing the tag, and Jones has a reputation for being a turd off the field. Plus, the team assumes that Jones and his agent will continue to make inflated demands on a long-term deal after the season.

      So, in the end, look for Jones to be one of the guys that the Seahawks allow to leave, as they scramble to determine who they'll be able to keep while at the same time staying on the right side of the salary cap.
      -11-04-2004, 11:32 PM
    • HUbison
      Jones expected to re-sign with Seahawks
      by HUbison
      Story taken from FOXSports.com

      The Seattle Seahawks do not have their front office in place yet but they have still managed to lock up the NFL's best tackle to a new massive contract.

      FOXSports.com has learned that the Seahawks last night agreed to terms with free-agent-to-be Walter Jones, arguably the NFL's best lineman. The deal spans seven years and includes a signing bonus that exceeds $15 million and includes additional roster bonuses over the first three years. The total package averages more than $7 million per season, putting him on par with the likes of Jonathan Ogden as the highest paid linemen in the NFL.
      Jones, who recently played in yet another Pro Bowl, likely would have been designated with the dreaded franchise tag again had the ‘Hawks been unable to lock him up. That number was in the $8.4 million range for one year.

      Considering the team has been running its ship with no skipper at the wheel, interim negotiator/team executive Mike Reinfeldt has actually put Seattle in place to secure its top two off-season priorities in Jones and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

      The team has already turned its attention toward getting something done with quarterback Hasselbeck. By getting a deal done with Jones — he is expected to officially sign later today — Seattle now has the luxury of franchising the quarterback. If they can lock up Hasselbeck too then they will have the tag to use on another free agent, such as Pro Bowl RB Shaun Alexander.

      In related news, the Seahawks are set to re-interview Dolphins executive Brian Wiedmeier, Falcons personnel man Ron Hill and Cardinals Senior Director of Football Operations Jon Idzik for the president of football operations post.
      -02-16-2005, 09:00 AM
    • RamDez
      Pace, Jones among best left tackles in NFL
      by RamDez
      Pace, Jones among best left tackles in NFL By Greg Bishop
      Seattle Times staff reporter




      KIRKLAND — They were baking in the Hawaii heat and basking in the Pro Bowl props, just two of the top left tackles in the NFL talking about their families and football and those pesky franchise tags.

      Walter Jones and Orlando Pace were smiling. Both could sense another vacation lay ahead. They weren't sure, but maybe sometime in August?

      That franchise tag has become a regular training-camp trump card for two giants paid to be big and strong and make sure the quarterback doesn't get knocked out by someone he cannot see. They are his vitamins, essential to his health, his protectors, essential to his safety. They are the most important cog in his only line of defense.

      And when they're good — and these two, who both play in Seattle tomorrow when the Seahawks host the St. Louis Rams, are considered among the best in the NFL — they are paid handsomely in one of two ways. By putting their signature on a franchise tender or a long-term contract.

      Both are searching for the latter. But in the meantime, they can skip camp, report the first week of the season, not lose any money and still make more than almost any other teammate. Jones signed a one-year contract for $7.08 million, and Pace signed for $7.02 million.

      "I guess that says it's a valuable position," Jones said.

      "To me, that says that other than the quarterback, the most valuable position on any football team is left tackle," said Mark Schlereth, an ESPN analyst and former lineman. "Just look at the franchise list. You've got your left tackles and your cover cornerbacks, for the most part.

      "And those guys, guys like Jones and Pace, are so few and far between. That's why they can do what they can do."

      Skip training camp that so many of their teammates dread. They're that valuable, that important, that vital to offensive success.

      Schlereth should know. He watches offensive linemen the way most people watch the football, and when he's not analyzing, he's making instructional tapes for his Web site, onlineskills.com.

      *He watches Jones. He watches Pace. And he sees two big men with nimble feet like a ballerina, best compared to Shaquille O'Neal or an unusual car hybrid.

      "It's the power of a Hummer with the maneuverability of a Ferrari," Schlereth said. "People don't understand that any lineman worth his salt could play an entire game without shoulder pads. It's about athleticism and recovery. That's what the great ones do. It's what separates them from the also-rans."

      You don't have to look far to find the proof. The first five words in Pace's media-guide biography are "best left tackle in football."

      Fair enough. And if Pace is the best, which...
      -10-10-2004, 01:09 AM
    • RamWraith
      Jones expected to re-sign with Seahawks
      by RamWraith
      Jay Glazer / FOXSports.com
      Posted: 2 hours ago

      The Seattle Seahawks do not have their front office in place yet but they have still managed to lock up the NFL's best tackle to a new massive contract.

      FOXSports.com has learned that the Seahawks last night agreed to terms with free-agent-to-be Walter Jones, arguably the NFL's best lineman. The deal spans seven years and includes a signing bonus that exceeds $15 million and includes additional roster bonuses over the first three years. The total package averages more than $7 million per season, putting him on par with the likes of Jonathan Ogden as the highest paid linemen in the NFL.

      Jones, who recently played in yet another Pro Bowl, likely would have been designated with the dreaded franchise tag again had the ‘Hawks been unable to lock him up. That number was in the $8.4 million range for one year.

      Considering the team has been running its ship with no skipper at the wheel, interim negotiator/team executive Mike Reinfeldt has actually put Seattle in place to secure its top two off-season priorities in Jones and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

      The team has already turned its attention toward getting something done with quarterback Hasselbeck. By getting a deal done with Jones — he is expected to officially sign later today — Seattle now has the luxury of franchising the quarterback. If they can lock up Hasselbeck too then they will have the tag to use on another free agent, such as Pro Bowl RB Shaun Alexander.

      In related news, the Seahawks are set to re-interview Dolphins executive Brian Wiedmeier, Falcons personnel man Ron Hill and Cardinals Senior Director of Football Operations Jon Idzik for the president of football operations post.
      -02-16-2005, 10:31 AM
    • RamWraith
      Punting Without Peer
      by RamWraith
      Wednesday, December 3, 2008

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      Five years ago, a low line drive punt traveling 41 yards that netted just 12 yards such as the one Donnie Jones booted in the first quarter against San Francisco on Nov. 16, would have been enough to drive Jones to a point of frustration that would have ruined him for the rest of the game.

      Such is the fragile psyche of a young punter in the NFL. At one of the few positions in the NFL where success or failure can be instantly recognized by anyone watching, it’s up to the punter to immediately put the previous punt – good or bad – in the rearview mirror.

      “I’d go in the toilet,” Jones said. “I was bad. I thought I was going to get cut. Then it would kind of snowball.”

      Since arriving in St. Louis on April 25, 2007 as a free agent, that snowball has apparently melted.

      In his first season as a Ram, Jones posted one of the finest seasons by a punter in franchise history. His 47.2 yard average was the highest season average in franchise history and helped him finish second in the NFC and third in the NFL in that category.

      And for as good as Jones was in 2007, he appears poised to take those numbers to a new level.

      Through 12 games, Jones leads the NFL with a 49.7 yard average on 63 punts. Perhaps more impressive and a testament to the hang time and angle of his punts in addition to the distance is Jones’ 40.7 net average which is good for third in the league and first in the NFC in that category.

      “I do think he’s a Pro Bowler,” coach Jim Haslett said. “There are a couple things. One, he has a live leg, a really live leg. He’s a big guy, he’s powerful. He can control the ball well, he can spot it, he can place it where he wants to. If he wants to kick it deep, he can kick it high. He can do almost anything he wants. I think Donnie feels good about it; he can’t punt it down there. We don’t have to worry about punting it out of bounds or sideways if we have a great returner. We punt to the best. The coverage units have been doing a good job and obviously he has a heck of a leg on him.”

      Just 26 games into his career as a Ram, it’s safe to say the days of fretting over being released or where his next opportunity might come are a thing of the past for Jones.

      “When I got here I finally said ‘Listen, you kicked a bad one so what are you going to do now?’” Jones said. “Are you going to sit there and sulk and say oh what am I going to do? I used to do all of that stuff and it kills you. Your head is not even in the game so you hit a bad one, it’s over. It’s a new game, go back out, start over and do it. The bad ones are going to happen. As much as you don’t want them to happen, they just do for some reason. You have to get over it.”

      PLEASED TO PUNT

      The process of remembering to forget has been many years in...
      -12-04-2008, 05:38 AM
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