Another controversial NFL star is looking to kick-start his football career in Canada.
Cornerback Adam (Pacman) Jones has agreed to a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, according to a CFL source, a move that he hopes will lead him back to the NFL.
Jones is a former first-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans who has twice been suspended by the NFL for off-field incidents — including for the entire 2007 season — and was released in February by the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bombers remained quiet about the move Tuesday.
Neither Bombers head coach Mike Kelly nor player-personnel director John Murphy returned telephone and email messages.
Worrick Robinson, Jones’s lawyer and agent, told The Associated Press the player is in negotiations with a CFL team but a deal has yet to be formally reached.
The Bombers wouldn’t be the first CFL team to take a chance on a former NFL star looking to resurrect or continue his career in Canada.
Ricky Williams spent the entire 2006 season with the Toronto Argonauts while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Former NFL first-round draft pick Lawrence Phillips — who was sentenced 10 years in jail in 2008 for seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon — spent time with Montreal and Calgary in 2002 and ’03.
And receiver Andre (Bad Moon) Rison spent the ’04 season with Toronto despite having been arrested several times for failing to pay child support.
Jones is free to join the Blue Bombers because he isn’t currently serving an NFL suspension and as a free agent can sign with any team.
After the Williams signing, the CFL changed its rules, banning suspended players from coming north.
Jones, who turns 26 at the end of the month, will definitely take a financial hit to play in Canada.
The the average CFL salary is roughly $60,000, although top cornerbacks in the league can earn six figures. Still, that’s a far cry from the reported US$1.3-million base salary he gave up in ’07 when he was suspended for his reported involvement in a shooting incident outside a Las Vegas strip club.
“He’s still young and has a lot of playing days ahead of him,” Robinson told The Associated Press. “If the CFL deal works out, it will be a good opportunity for him to get back on the field and show what he can do.”
The addition of Jones is an interesting one for the 3-5 Bombers, who despite their record still boast one of the CFL’s top defences. Winnipeg is ranked second in fewest points allowed (23.1 per game) and lead the league in interceptions (19) and interception yards (274).
The five-foot-10, 185-pound Jones had 31 tackles in nine games — including six starts — with no interceptions last season with Dallas. But his presence at cornerback would give the Bombers the luxury of having a shutdown defender who could single-handedly take care of an opponent’s top receiver.
That would allow Winnipeg to either double-team another pass catcher or send more linebackers in blitz situations to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
However, there are some nuances of Canadian football Jones would have to get used to, most notably the longer, wider field. The additional real estate will force Jones to learn new drop spots when falling back in zone pass protection.
And there’s also the matter of the 12th man and unlimited motion in the offensive backfield.
But Jones could be more than just a defensive stalwart for the Bombers.
During his time in the NFL, Jones also saw action as a kickoff and punt returner but only averaged a paltry 4.6 yards per punt return last season with Dallas.
He’d have more room on the longer, wider Canadian field to better utilize his speed and quickness, especially with punt-coverage teams having to give returners a five-yard cushion to catch the ball.
And Jones would be forced to return every punt he lined up for in Canada, where he wouldn’t have the security of being able to call for a fair catch. He’d also have to get used to the idea of returning the ball off a failed field goal try in the CFL.