As a career special teams player with a baby on the way, Panthers backup safety Colin Jones and his wife packed up and headed home to Fort Worth this offseason uncertain of his future with Carolina.
But one of the Panthers’ most dependable special teams players received a two-year contract Tuesday, assuring Jones wouldn’t hit free agency and the couple’s first child would be a Charlottean.
“We definitely wanted to come back. This was our first choice the whole time,” Jones said. “So we were hoping it was going to work out.”
Jones, 29, signed a two-year deal worth $2.4 million, according to a league source. Afterward, he and his wife, Briana, enjoyed a celebratory lunch in Charlotte, then were flying back to Fort Worth. Jones is glad he’ll be returning for the offseason conditioning program in April and the birth of his son in June.
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“You think about my role, being one place for five seasons is a pretty good run,” said Jones, acquired by Carolina in a trade with San Francisco before the 2012 season. “Thinking about it in those terms, I was wondering if I might have to go somewhere else.”
Instead, Jones is under contract through the 2018 season. The former TCU standout has ranked among the Panthers’ leading special teams tacklers over the past five seasons, with a total of 42 special teams stops over that span.
Jones believes the Panthers’ special teams units are ready to “turn the corner” under second-year coordinator Thomas McGaughey.
“I think one thing you see out of the perennial playoff teams is a solid special teams group that have elite capabilities in all four phases,” Jones said.