A name that was associated with the Colts from the moment free agency talk began was Arthur Jones, and the reasons for it made perfect sense. Indeed, very shortly after the free agency period actually began the Colts and Jones agreed to a deal to bring the former Ravens defensive lineman to Indianapolis.
Jones was originally drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2010 draft out of Syracuse, where he was named first team All Big East in his final two seasons. In his first two seasons in the NFL he started just one game combined, playing in 16 (not recording a stat line at all in 2010). In the past two years, however, he played in 30 games and started 19. For his career, he has notched 120 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. He racked up 4.5 sacks in 2012 and 4.0 in 2013. In 2012, Jones played a big role in the Ravens Super Bowl run, and in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers he recovered a fumble and notched a sack on Colin Kaepernick. The Ravens won that game 34-31 and Jones earned a Super Bowl ring. As an interesting personal note, Jones is the brother of UFC fighter Jon Jones and Chandler Jones of the New England Patriots.
Kris Jones of Baltimore Beat Down wrote of Jones:
"Personally, I would love to see Jones stay, but making as much money as possible is something he deserves. If you've ever met him, you'll echo my sentiments that he just may be the nicest person you've ever encountered. He possesses a value for more than what he does on the field, as he's a great locker room asset as well.
"Even though I hope he does this with a paycheck with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's signature on it, I can only wish Jones to take the biggest check possible to the bank. He certainly has deserved it."
We've already seen that endearing personality from Jones in some brief discussions he has had with local media and it's clear that he's a very likable person. On the field, Jones is a very good defender against the run and can rush the passer some as well - although clearly his strongest attribute and the reason he earned his contract is due to his run defense. He also brings versatility to the Colts defensive line, as Jones is listed as a defensive end but can play nose tackle as well.
Jones played for current Colts head coach Chuck Pagano while he was the defensive coordinator of the Ravens in 2011 and Pagano was with Jones in 2010 while Pagano was the secondary coach with the Ravens too. Jones has played in the system and knows it well, which is a luxury when bringing him in because there shouldn't be too much of an adjustment period. Jones is also reunited with Cory Redding, who played on the Ravens defensive line from 2010-2011 before joining Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis. Jones and Redding are friends and know each other well, and added with the fact that Pagano is in Indianapolis it made the Colts the logical choice for Jones in free agency. In a conference call with local media after signing with the Colts, Jones called the Colts a "first class" organization and said of Pagano and Redding:
"Chuck Pagano, he's a guy who was my defensive coordinator, as you guys know. He brought so much passion to the game and a guy that loved his job and really loved football. Anytime you have a coach like that, that loves to win, you would love to go to war for him. Every single day, I enjoyed him. He's a great coach, had an open door policy. He's always been that type of guy. It was definitely a no brainer when the time came. Cory Redding, having him here, he was my mentor in the big brother program they had in Baltimore. He was a guy that helped me mature and showed me the ropes, how to be a professional, the right things to eat, things to spend your money on and the different things of the NFL, being young, the girls. He really schooled me up and showed me the ropes and is someone I really respect. Just to have the opportunity to play with him and torment running backs and quarterbacks is going to be awesome."
Jones was also asked how he is going to best contribute to the Colts, and he said:
"Just being myself. Just being a hard worker, coming to work every single day and busting my tail and just letting my character shine as a person and a player. I feel like that's going to be a huge role."
Shortly after signing Arthur Jones, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said of him:
"He is an outstanding producer down after down versus the run and pass. He's a guy who plays at a championship level week after week and lays it on the line every time he steps out on the field. He is a great fit for our team."
The main question Colts fans have in regards to this move is about where Jones will be playing. As I mentioned earlier, he can play both end and tackle and will likely play some of both in Indianapolis. Jones said that he played more tackle last year but two years ago played end, again reaffirming that he can play both. The Colts have Cory Redding and Ricky Jean Francois as defensive ends already, which would likely mean that Jones will be playing more tackle. While that really might be the case, he also will likely rotate with the other two at end as Josh Chapman gets more playing time at nose tackle too. And then, with Cory Redding set to become a free agent next offseason, Jones might be the replacement for him.
In any case, I don't think the Colts overpaid that much for Jones (no more than is normal in free agency) and considering the fact that many other teams were interested in him, I'll take the contract they gave him. He is very good against the run and will absolutely help the Colts in that area that they absolutely needed to address. He can rush the passer as well, sure, but he was brought in as a run defender and he was one of the best guys the Colts could have gotten to do that. He's a likable guy and will be a favorite of many Colts fans. He's in the same system and with a coach and player he's familiar with, and this fall we should see why the Colts wanted to sign him. Hopefully he can help the Colts get to and win a Super Bowl, just like he did with the Ravens.
Quick Summary: Arthur Jones:
Weight: 315 pounds
Age: 27 years old
Years Pro: Four seasons, all with the Baltimore Ravens
Drafted: Fifth round (157th overall) by the Ravens in 2010 NFL Draft
Statistical Resume: 20 games started (46 games played), 120 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Contract: 5-years, $33 million ($10 million guaranteed); $5.6 million cap hit in 2014 (via spotrac)
Pros: Run defense; can rush the passer; versatility; likable guy with good personality; familiar with system and Pagano
Cons: hasn't really been a full-time starter as much