Adam “Pacman” Jones was part of the last-minute meltdown that cost the Cincinnati Bengals a chance for their long-awaited playoff win. He wanted to stick around and try it again.
Jones signed a three-year deal this week, turning down comparable offers from other teams. The Bengals’ top cornerback turns 33 in September and has already thought about how he wants to end his career.
“I think I can fulfill the contract and more,” he said Thursday. “I’ll let everything take care of itself. Can’t worry about what people say. No one would have thought I’d be in this situation right here if you had to write this book five, six years ago.
“At the end of the day, I really truly have a picture of how I want this to look, so I will not take it for granted.”
He wants it to look a lot different than it did on Jan. 9 at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 16-15 and needed only to stop the Steelers, who were pinned deep in their territory and had Ben Roethlisberger playing with an injured shoulder. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict hit receiver Antonio Brown in the head on an incompletion, drawing a penalty, and Jones got another penalty for bumping an official during a verbal altercation.
The two penalties moved Pittsburgh in range for Chris Boswell’s winning 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds left. The Bengals lost in the opening round of the playoffs for the fifth season in a row, an NFL record. They haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, one of the longest streaks of futility in league history.
“That’s over with and done,” Jones said. “Can’t change the past. We move forward. We learned a lot of things from that game, and we’re looking forward to the future.”
Jones was one of the Bengals’ priorities in free agency, coming off his best season. He had three interceptions and was their top one-on-one defender in a defense that allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL.
They also stood to lose cornerback Leon Hall and safeties George Iloka and Reggie Nelson from the secondary as unrestricted free agents. Iloka agreed to a five-year deal, so two of the starters are onboard.
Jones was outspoken about wanting to stay in Cincinnati, which gave him a chance to revive his career. Several other teams made offers as well.
“I did test the market,” he said. “We had several offers. But at the end of the day, Cincinnati’s was fit for me. I love it here in the city. The money wasn’t that big of a difference.”
His team has the same challenge that it has been unable to meet for 25 years _ not just get to the playoffs, but finally win one.
“Hopefully we can push each other to the limit and we’ll get past the hump that everybody knows about, which is the playoffs,” he said.