GREEN BAY, Wis. — If the Green Bay Packers trade or release safety Josh Jones, it won’t be because that’s what the former second-round pick wants. That’s how general manager Brian Gutekunst is playing it.
“I think it’s more about what our team desire is, and right now we’re kind of working through that,” Gutekunst said Tuesday. “But he’s a very talented player. He’s shown that on the field at the times. We’ll go along and see where it goes.”
Jones reported for the start of the Packers’ mandatory minicamp, which opened Tuesday, but did not practice. Gutekunst said he was held out because of a hamstring injury, but it’s possible the Packers don’t want to put Jones on the field because if he were to get hurt, they would have trouble trading him or cutting him.
A source told ESPN last month that Jones wanted the Packers to trade him or let him go, and that’s why he left the team during the middle of the voluntary offseason program.
The Packers could have fined Jones had he not reported for this week’s minicamp. When asked Tuesday where things stand, Jones told ESPN: “I have no idea. All of those conversations are left up to my agent and Brian.”
Added Gutekunst: “Obviously Josh wasn’t here in the voluntary session. He got back yesterday. It was good to see him, get him in the building. Dealing with a little bit of a hamstring. But there’s been constant communication with us and Drew [Rosenhaus], his agent, so we’re kind of going from there.”
Jones, the 61st overall pick in the 2017 draft, has not found a consistent role for the Packers. The safety has been used at times as an inside linebacker in the dime defensive package. He has started 12 games in his two years but didn’t become a starter last season until late in the year.
The Packers opened last season with former undrafted rookie Kentrell Brice and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety. Even after Clinton-Dix was traded midway through last season, Jones was bypassed for a starting job when the Packers moved Tramon Williams from cornerback to safety. It wasn’t until after Brice sustained an ankle injury in Week 10 that Jones finally got his first start of the season in Week 11.
“We’ve been in constant communication,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think we’re on the same page in terms of what the expectations are and where [Jones] fits with us. We certainly want him a part of what we’re doing moving forward.
“I think he’s a versatile guy. He can fill a lot of roles, especially in [coordinator Mike] Pettine’s defense where we’re going to play multiple defensive backs and put these guys all over the place. I think he’s a talented young player that I think can help us.”
Jones said he reported for minicamp because it’s mandatory. “I’m also a part of the Green Bay Packers,” he said, “so that’s why I came.”
It’s unclear what role Jones would play if the Packers kept him on the roster this season.
“I’ve been here the past two years, but that’s not up to me,” Jones said.
When asked whether he thinks his best opportunity would be with another team, Jones said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know what the good Lord has planned for me. I don’t know what path he’s going to lead me down. Whether that’s here or there or anywhere, I know that I’m going to thrive.”