DAVIE — Reshad Jones celebrated his 30th birthday shortly after the season ended, and although he says he’s hardly ready to give up football, he can envision the ideal way for his career to end.
“I definitely would like to retire a Dolphin,” Jones said Thursday. “I’ve been here nine years. My family’s here. I don’t want to go anywhere at this point. Nine years in, with the same team, that’s kind of rare.”
Jones, a safety, arrived in 2010 and embarked on a career on track to label him one of the best bargains in team history. He was a mere fifth-round draft pick out of Georgia who has made two Pro Bowls the past three seasons, sandwiched around an injury-shorted 2016.
“Like I’ve always said, I know I’m one of the best safeties in this league,” said Jones, whose five-year, $60 million contract runs through 2022. “I know what I can do in this league. All I’m here to do is continue to do whatever it takes for this team to win games. Contract situation behind me, all those things behind me, my main focus is to help this team win and be the best teammate and player I can be.”
Jones made 122 tackles last year to lead NFL safeties and rank 12th among all players. His first Pro Bowl season, 2015, was the only other time he made more tackles (135), so he’s obviously still in the peak of his career.
“I still feel 18, man,” he said. “I still feel like I’ve got a lot of ball left ahead of me.”
One advantage this year is he expects to have T.J. McDonald lining up beside him all season. McDonald missed the first half of last season because of a league suspension.
“We’re both versatile safeties,” Jones said. “I can play free, he can play free. He can play strong, I can play strong. So I think it’ll be exciting for us to see early on, to have both of us on the field at the same time at the beginning of the season.”
But there’s more to the story because the Dolphins spent their first-round draft pick on Minkah Fitzpatrick, affording them the option to use a three-safety formation.
“It’s about time,” Jones said. “We haven’t drafted a safety in a while. I think it was about time for us to get another defensive back in the room.”
The Dolphins haven’t drafted a defensive back in the first round since 2009, when they took cornerback Vontae Davis.
But it’s more than that. Jones likes the vibe he’s getting in the locker room in general.
“There’s been a lot of change around here,” he said. “The culture feels a little bit different. It feels better. I just think we’re headed in the right direction.”
As long as Jones himself isn’t headed in any direction out of South Florida.
“I’ve love to be here,” he said. “I love Miami. I love the fans. I love everything about it. I was blessed to be able to be drafted to one of the teams I wanted to come to. So I definitely want to end my career here if that’s possible.”
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