Even with Pro Bowl wide receiver Jordy Nelson returning from last year’s knee injury and four young wideouts -- Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery -- with varying degrees of promise, Jones said McCarthy gave the impression during their conversation after the Packers’ season-ending playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals that the team still planned to re-sign him.
By March, the Packers had informed Jones’ agent that they were moving on. And while Jones, who remains a free agent, said there are no hard feelings toward the team with which he spent eight total seasons, he admitted Friday he was caught off guard when Green Bay’s plans apparently changed.
“I wasn’t mad that they didn’t bring me back, but I was surprised,” the 32-year-old recalled during an interview on “Green & Gold Today” on ESPN Milwaukee. “Me and Mike had a very good conversation at the end of the year after we had lost to Arizona, and I kind of felt like, ‘OK, cool, I’m going to be back.’ Whether it’s [a] one-year [deal], whether it’s two years, I felt like Mike was going to bring me back. But he didn’t.
“But I don’t have any hard feelings, I love all those guys over there, and I hope that they do good."
A 2007 third-round pick from San Jose State, Jones spent his first seven NFL seasons in Green Bay before leaving as a free agent in March 2014. After one season with the Oakland Raiders and a training camp with the New York Giants, Jones re-signed with the Packers just before last year’s regular-season opener to replace Nelson, who was lost for the year in preseason.
With Nelson out and Randall Cobb presumed to be quarterback Aaron Rodgers' No. 1 receiver, Jones ended up catching 50 passes for a team-leading 890 yards last season. Now, he's less worried about the NFL’s decision to ban his signature hoodie than he is about finding a team for next season.
“I definitely want to keep playing,” Jones said. “It’s crazy, man. After the season was over I didn’t think I’d be sitting here this long. I [thought] somebody would come take me off the year that I had. But at the same time, it’s kind of my life story. I lead the Raiders in every [receiving] category [in 2014], get released. I lead the Giants in every [receiving] category in the  preseason, get released. I lead the Packers in a couple categories, they want to go younger.
“I’m sitting here waiting. I’m in shape, I’ve been working extremely hard like I always do. So I’m excited about the next move, man. I would love to come back to the Packers, but they’ve got other plans. But hopefully, it’s somewhere.”
In addition to their six returning receivers, the Packers also drafted speedy California wideout Trevor Davis in the fifth round this spring. Nevertheless, Jones said he’d happily return to Green Bay as the team’s “in case of emergency, break glass” receiver.
“One-hundred percent, man. I would love to be back there playing football,” Jones said. “I kind of was excited after the conversation I had with Coach McCarthy ... excited that me, Jordy and Randall would get back together with Aaron and do some damage. But it didn’t happen. Those are my brothers. I would love to play with them and win another Super Bowl and kind of finish my career out there.
“If anything happened -- which I don’t want it to happen, because I love Davante, Jeff, Abby, Ty Montgomery -- I hope everybody stays healthy and I get to play in another uniform. But if it did happen, yes, 100 percent.”