Marvin Jones to approach free agency with 'open mind,' not ruling out return to Lions
The last time Marvin Jones was a free agent, he was looking for an opportunity to prove himself.
Five years later, an established veteran likely at the tail end of his prime, the Lions receiver will be looking for who is willing to bet on him next, whether that's the Lions or one of the league's 31 other teams.
"I think before, my priorities were basically to go somewhere where there was a team that I could help get over the hump," Jones said Wednesday. "And I feel like early on, I was an aid in doing that, as well as getting opportunities to get some throws my way and prove that I'm one of the good ones in the league, which I think I've done.
"Obviously, this process might be different than it was when I got my (last) contract, but I think it's still pretty much the same. You look at different teams, you look at the needs of the teams. Maybe this time around you look for different things in terms of what you want and how I want to finish my career. I think all those things are pretty much the same as what I did last time, but this time, it'll be more about other things."
Priorities often shift as players get older, with family weighing heavily into those decisions. But Jones was a family man when he arrived in Detroit. His wife, Jazmyn, has a business here, even though the couple and their four (soon to be five) children call California home in the offseason.
Then there's the matter of winning. Jones experienced a good deal of that in Cincinnati — where he was drafted in 2012 — prior to coming to Detroit. During his four years there, the Bengals won at least 10 games each season. And the Lions won nine games each of his first two seasons here, including a postseason berth in 2016.
But for all that regular-season success, he's never come close to a championship. In fact, he's never escaped the opening weekend of the playoffs, seeing his team eliminated in the wild-card round each of those five trips.
With the Lions facing a rebuild after firing coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn in November, could chasing a championship be a lure for Jones?
"Most definitely could be the reason, but in free agency, there's nothing that you throw out," he said. "You really have to keep an open mind and talk about the types of things in mind that you want. If a team can fulfill mostly all those things, it'll be the right fit."
Jones signed a five-year deal with the Lions in 2016, shortly after Calvin Johnson retired. Obviously, Jones was never going to be a one-to-one replacement, but he played a significant role in filling that massive void.
Although he battled a couple injuries, both of which he considers flukes, Jones averaged better than 13 games through the life of the contract, catching 281 passes for 4,116 yards and 34 scores.
And even though he'll enter the market at 31 years old this go-around, he's convinced he still has plenty left in the tank.
"Oh, I got everything left," Jones said. "Until I decide to quit, until I decide to retire, I'm just going to move the same. I mean, you guys seen me this past (training) camp. I was moving better than I ever probably moved, and I've always pretty much felt good."
But if Sunday is the last game for Jones in a Lions uniform, he hopes fans will fondly reflect on what he's brought to the table during his five seasons in Detroit.
"At no point am I saying, 'Oh, I'm never coming back here,'" he said. "Everything is a possibility. But just me making those game-changing plays, me making those touchdowns and most importantly, what I did outside of the football field, definitely embraced the community, which I love."