Zay Jones was never quite able to live up to the potential of his second-round selection by the Buffalo Bills, but the 26-year-old wide receiver is making the most of his second chance in the NFL.
After a trade out of Buffalo and a strong if unspectacular tenure with the Las Vegas Raiders, Jones has reportedly signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that Jones’s deal has a maximum value of $30 million, a contract that has many Bills fans shocked.
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Bills Fans React to Contract
Jones will now join a Jaguars team that has beefed up its offense and added weapons for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, having landed receiver Christian Kirk and Evan Engram. Jones made 47 catches for 546 yards and one touchdown last season, the fourth-most on the team behind Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller and Bryan Edwards.
Many Bills fans, who largely remember Jones as part of the less-than-stellar offense that quarterback Josh Allen inherited in his rookie season in 2018, were shocked at the news and took to Twitter to share their reactions. Many believed that the $10 million-per-year price tag seemed excessive, especially when there were other receivers on the market who came cheaper.
Bruce Nolan, a Bills podcast host with Buffalo Rumblings, slammed the Jaguars for apparently choosing Jones over the more productive Laviska Shenault Jr., who is now reportedly on the trade block.
“The premise here is that the TRENT BAALKE OF THE JAGUARS feels he is inferior to Zay Jones and Christian Kirk,” Nolan tweeted. “He could just be wrong. The receiving team would get Shenault for two years at salaries that are 1/10 or less than what receivers are getting on the open market.”
Other Bills fans expressed relief that Buffalo chose to re-sign the relatively affordable Isaiah McKenzie, a versatile threat in both the passing and running games and the team’s primary kick return specialist for much of the season. He returned to the Bills on a two-year, $4 million contract.
Jones Struggled in Buffalo
There were high hopes for Jones after the Bills took him with the No. 37 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he failed to live up to the potential through two-and-a-half uneven seasons in Buffalo. His second season was his best, with 652 yards and seven touchdowns in Josh Allen’s rookie season. But Jones also struggled with untimely drops including what could have been a game-winning snag against the Carolina Panthers in his rookie season.
The Bills traded Jones to the then-Oakland Raiders in 2019 in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Jones appeared blindsided by the move, saying afterward that he was shocked to be traded.
“I felt like I had a good amount of production in my second season. Stepping into the third season, obviously, I was hoping and planning for more. It wasn’t trending in that direction in the beginning. I was just trying to stay as patient as possible and really trust in that process of, ‘It’ll eventually happen,’” Jones told the San Francisco Chronicle.