CARSON, California -- U.S. international midfielder Jermaine Jones said he is no closer to signing a new contract with the New England Revolution, but is willing to take a pay cut so long as it is accompanied by an increase in guaranteed years.
Jones is currently training with the U.S. team as it prepare for friendlies against Iceland on Jan. 31 and Canada on Feb. 5. His most recent contract with New England expired at the end of last year.
"Right now, we really don't do anything," said Jones in an exclusive interview following Monday's training session. "We sit back, and enjoy family time. I say that I'm open to go back to New England or any other team in MLS, but for the right value. People have to respect me for that and come up with the correct offer. Then we sit down and we talk. But I'm not going to force someone to do something."
Jones added that the last time he talked to New England GM Mike Burns and the club's investor/operator Jonathan Kraft was before Christmas, at which point he went public with his displeasure at being offered a contract that he said would pay him less than 20 percent of what he was paid in 2015.
Last year Jones made $3.05 million in guaranteed compensation. Based on Jones' estimate, a new deal would pay him between $500,000 and $600,000.
Speaking at last week's MLS Player Combine, Burns essentially echoed Jones' assessment.
"There's been no update, nothing different than before," he said. "We've had discussions, and [Jones] knows what our position is, but there's been no resolution yet. He hasn't signed anywhere else, he hasn't signed with MLS, and we've said he's a player we'd like to have back. He's got other options and he's weighing what he wants to do. We've made that very clear to him and his representatives, and that's kind of where it stands."
Since arriving after the 2014 World Cup, New England's record with Jones on the field is 20-7-7, with the Revs reaching the 2014 MLS Cup final, which it lost 2-1 in extra time to the L.A. Galaxy.
"We emailed a little bit back and forth," said Jones about his discussions with Burns and Kraft. "But at the end of the day I told them I wasn't happy with the offer, and that the offer wasn't with the right respect, given what I did for New England. I told them, 'If you really want to talk, then you have to come up with something [better].' It has to show value, what I did for the club and for the team."
Jones is coming off a season that saw him limited to 19 league and playoff appearances as a result of two hernia operations.
"Now I feel good, and I'm healthy," he said. "And I told them, 'Guys, respect me and treat me with the respect that you would want to be treated, and we can build something. Give me that trust and come back with the right offer. That offer that you give me right now, it's not that I jump up and say, yeah, I take it.'
"And the point is that this is maybe my last deal. I say to the team that I would take a cut and we can sit down and talk. But I want to have guaranteed years. I don't want to sit here every year and say, 'Where are you going? Where do you want get trade?' I want to be focused to the World Cup and after the World Cup I want to say, 'It's done.'"
Complicating Jones' position is the six-game suspension he is facing to start the season. Jones was judged to have committed referee assault at the end of New England's playoff game against D.C. United back on Oct. 28, In that match, referee Matt Geiger failed to call what Jones thought was a clear penalty.
An incensed Jones then sprinted up field to confront Geiger and was red-carded when he aggressively put both of his hands on the referee. After he was ejected, Jones then pulled Geiger by the shoulder as the referee attempted to walk away.
"In that moment I was angry, and I go around to him to talk with [Geiger]," said Jones. "He walked away. It happened. It was a mistake, so I got suspended. I have to take it. But for me, I will come back and show all the people that I make mistakes and I take what comes. For me, I'm a guy who hates to lose. This is sport and I want people like that around me.
"I don't want people who say, 'I can lose today. I'm happy with that.' That's my point. I will come back. I came back in Germany when people said, 'Ah, he's done.' People say now that I'm 34, I'm old, but they support other players who are 35, 36, and nobody says anything. It's really funny. Yeah, I've got my focus and I will be back."
Jones' contract status may work in his favor when it comes to the upcoming U.S. friendlies. Technically, Jones won't begin serving his suspension until he signs with a club. If that is in MLS, his suspension won't begin until March, thus allowing him to play against Iceland and Canada, but miss two World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala at the end of March.
If he signs with a club outside of MLS, he would begin serving his suspension immediately, which would see him suspended for the friendlies, but could see his ban end in time for the two Guatemala matches.