Questions about Jermaine Jones' future first surfaced in early 2015. But now, GM Mike Burns and the Revolution Front Office have a decision to make. Do they want to commit to Jones for the long haul? Or are they ready to part ways with their highly-touted DP?
Jake wants a long-term deal. Nick is wary of the risks. Jump into the conversation—and share your thoughts below.
Nick: As the Revolution consider resigning Jones, I'm apprehensive. He's meant so much to this club over the past two seasons. He's meant so much to this country over the past two seasons. But a long-term deal for a banged-up, 34-year old vet raises obvious flags.
Jake: I think the biggest issue for Jones is his health, namely his two hernia surgeries this year and his lack of proper training with the Revs since he was injured during USMNT duty last January. That led to a campaign where Jones missed half the season and didn't record a goal or a contribution an assist. But I still can't get around the fact that the Revs' record with Jones is far superior to their record without him. It's hard for me to just cast aside a player, even at 34, who's been so vital to the Revs. Besides Jones' health, is there a specific issue you have with resigning Jones?
Nick: I think health concerns lead to larger concerns, like long-term value. I would exercise his 2016 option in a heartbeat. But I'm not convinced a long-term deal—as Jones requested, both for his professional future and his family's future—is a worthwhile investment. I want what's best for this club in 2016, 2017 and 2018; I don't want what's best for this club in 2014 or 2015. In two or three years, will 37-year-old Jermaine Jones be the best thing for this club?
Jake: I'm willing to take that risk. Even when not at 100 percent, Jones will always try his best. He's a competitor and he always will be. There will be a time, possibly during this World Cup cycle, when he retires from international duty. But for the next three years until the next World Cup, I think his value to this team is worth a big contract. Especially when you compare Jones' $3 million dollar salary to older players like Frank Lampard ($6M) and Steven Gerrard ($6.2M). I think Jones still has plenty left in the tank to keep the Revs a consistent playoff team for the next few years.
And here's another problem: if you let Jones go, who takes his spot in the starting lineup? Jones already has 18 months experience with his current teammates...and bringing in another international signing might not have the same effect as Jones had in 2014.
Nick: I think you're smart to raise the lineup question—one I imagine Jay Heaps has raised for himself many times. Before Jones came into the mix, Heaps often deployed Andy Dorman or Scott Caldwell as the holding midfielder in a 4-1-4-1. The 4-2-3-1 mostly originated as a way to get both Caldwell and Jones on the field at the same time. Why not hand over the reins to Scotty, the rising star of this club? Heaps could then invest in a second creative mind to play off Lee Nguyen—or, perhaps more importantly, a stout defender who could partner with Chris Tierney, Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves to form one of the better defensive units in the league.
Of course, that may not solve the chemistry problem. And it may come at a higher cost. But long term, I think this club could excel without a prototypical destroyer in the middle of the field.
Jake: Let's say the answer to Jermaine Jones is on the roster. A 4-1-4-1 formation with some combination of Caldwell as a lone holder with Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe/Andy Dorman/Daigo Kobyashi in the middle could work in theory. But one of the reasons for Caldwell's development has to be Jones, and with Zachary Herivaux also in the homegrown pipeline, having Jones around on the practice field could be worth his salary alone. When the Revs started climbing out of their seemingly annual summer swoon, it wasn't when Jones was back starting games, but rather when he was back on the practice field and made appearances off the bench.
And if the Revs do let Jones walk, do they reinvest his $3M salary in another DP, or spread the money around to guys like Lee and Charlie Davies?
Nick: It's tough to know exactly how much Jones means to Scotty; I imagine just about any CDM would improve beside a talent like Jones. But at some point, I want to see what Caldwell has to offer as the club's tried-and-true holding midfielder.
That said, I couldn't confidently predict that Mike Burns and the Revs FO would use the saved money to lure a big-time DP. Time and time again, we've see management pass on elite players. And time and time again, we've seen management reach for guys like Jerry Bengston or Benny Feilhaber, who—for whatever reason—just can't seem to get going in a Revs uniform. In the end, I wouldn't be disappointed to see Jermaine back in red, white and blue next season. He's a rare talent with a rare personality. But when push comes to shove, I'm not taking the risk. Are you?
Jake: Yes, count me all in for Jones. Even on a three-year deal through 2018, I think he's worth it both on and off the field. He was very close to the final piece for the Revs in last year's MLS Cup run and, without him in the midfield (let's not talk about that month on defense) for most of the year, New England was mostly average. I don't think that's a coincidence.
This is still a team that in the offseason that absolutely needs depth at center back and probably another true striker up top. But the midfield the Revs have now is really, really good. It's fairly young, talented, deep and I don't want to risk messing around with it too much, not with the possibility of overhauling the defense this winter. Jones is a pure gamer and I think wants to win very badly, and I'd rather have him on my team now then have to play against him for the next few years.
What do you think? Should the Revs re-sign Jones? Vote below.