My phone — like many of yours, I’m sure — has a sports news app that makes a distinctive sound when it wants to inform me of a crucial football update. It’s the sort of “drop everything!” noise that creates the illusion that DUI arrests and quarterback contracts are more important than sleep or driving.
Friday evening, the annoying but indispensable app interrupted my dinner to tell me that the New England Patriots had released Donald Jones, the former Buffalo Bills wide receiver whom they had signed to a conditional three-year deal not much earlier. Officially, the Patriots explained that they’re rebuilding their receiver program, focusing on rookies. But those rookies have been iffy in offseason camps, much iffier than Jones. It’s possible that Jones just doesn’t fit into the Patriots’ quirky offense, but he’s a talented player at the peak of his ability.
But that three-year contract is expensive, especially compared to what the Patriots are presumably paying the quartet of first-year receivers they’ve signed during the past few weeks. With Aaron Hernandez no longer on the team, New England is coming into the waivers period with more cash than expected. And with Rob Gronkowski expecting an indefinite stay on the PUP list, the team has gone from two star tight ends to zero over the course of the summer.
If I were the Patriots, I’d be throwing my leftover money at an agile tight end who can catch. My first preference would be an underappreciated player, someone young enough to adapt but old enough to mentor a fresh-face pack of receivers. I suspect that Jones’s release signals the start of poaching season in New England.
I’m sure my phone app will notify me loudly and inappropriately if I’m right.
You can contact Sarah Rasher on Twitter @pas_dechat