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Marvin Jones says he'll test free agency and Bengals should let him go if price too high

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CINCINNATI (Richard Skinner) - It's no surprise that Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones says he is going to test the free agent market, and unfortunately Bengals fans he may get too pricey to re-sign.

Jones told NFL Network on Wednesday that he is definitely going to test the market, and it's the smart thing for him to do.

He will likely be among the top three most coveted receivers in a thin free agent crop so he could probably command more money than he is probably worth.

He has a mutual admiration society with former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who is now head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Jackson has said multiple times over the last couple of seasons that Jones hasn't come close to reaching his full potential yet and thinks he has the potential to be a star.

The Browns have a definitive need for a No. 1 wide receiver and may be more than willing to pay Jones in that regard.

Jones benefited from playing opposite A.J. Green in 2013 and 2015 and has no one close to Green's caliber to take pressure off him in Cleveland, but if the Browns are willing to pay him to be a No. 1 it would be impossible to turn down.

Jones may also be tired of playing the No. 2 role to Green, too, although he was targeted just 29 times less than Green (132 to 103), so truth be told he was closer to a 1A than a No. 2.

The Bengals should make it a priority to try to re-sign Jones, because they don't have anyone close to being ready to replace him. Mohamed Sanu, who is also a free agent, has proven to be a No. 3 at best. He played the No. 2 role in 2014 in place of Jones, who missed the entire season due to injury, and played very well in a five-game stretch when he caught 27 passes for 464 yards and three touchdowns as Green also missed some time with injuries. Over the final eight games of 2014 though he had just 19 receptions for 162 yards and one touchdown and had numerous drops, then this season as the No. 3 he had just 33 catches for 394 yards and no touchdowns.

That said, the Bengals shouldn't break the bank to sign Jones. They have proven to be prudent in their decision making when it comes to paying their own, or in some cases letting them walk to greener pastures.

If that happens, then they will likely have to re-sign Sanu, but it also means they will have money to re-sign cornerback Adam Jones and safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson.

And if Jones does walk it doesn't mean the Bengals are devoid of offensive weapons. Green is still among the game's best and tight end Tyler Eifert is coming off a Pro Bowl season. Quarterback Andy Dalton was in the conversation for MVP before suffering his season-ending broken thumb. Keep in mind, the Bengals went to the playoffs in 2014 without Jones or Eifert.

There's also the possibility of using three wide receivers less often and going back to the I formation more, which running back Jeremy Hill is clearly more comfortable doing rather than running from a standing start out of the shotgun.

It would be nice to get Marvin Jones back. It should be a priority. If the price is too high though, the Bengals would be smart to let him walk away and commit their dollars elsewhere.


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