Reshad Jones is back. And he insisted Wednesday that it’s for good.
Jones ended his springtime sabbatical from Dolphins camp Wednesday, reporting for Day 2 of the team’s mandatory minicamp.
And while the months-long holdout didn’t accomplish what Jones wanted — a fresh contract with big guaranteed dollars — Jones is optimistic that a new deal is still in the cards.
“I feel confident that the organization and my agent will work something out,” said Jones, the Dolphins’ star safety. “I’m here to play football. … I’m here. Everything’s behind me. I’m ready to play football.”
By everything, Jones meant his holdout. He won’t miss the start of training camp — even if the Dolphins don’t rework a deal that has two seasons and some $14 million left.
Jones returned Wednesday, at least in part, because he missed being around his teammates.
The feeling was apparently mutual.
“We missed our boy,” said center Mike Pouncey. “He’s happy to be back in the building. Obviously, our best player on defense, a great football player. We’re excited to have him back.”
Which is good news for the Dolphins, who are installing a new defense under a bunch of new coaches.
Jones, who led all safeties in tackles (135) and touchdowns (two) in 2015, has been and will continue to be a big part of their plans — even if they haven’t completely ironed out the details yet.
“We’re going to have to figure that out,” Adam Gase said of the Dolphins’ vision for Jones. “Obviously, we’re in Day One with him. We have a general idea of how we want to use him. But that role can obviously expand when you have a player of his caliber. We want to put him in position to make as many plays as possible.”
They wasted no time Wednesday. Despite boycotting the last two months of work, Jones was quickly reinserted into the starting lineup, working alongside Michael Thomas on Wednesday. Thomas is expected to compete with newcomer Isa Abdul-Quddus for the starting free safety job throughout training camp, but might have an early edge.
“I fit right into the scheme,” Jones said. “You will see the same [No.] 20.”
Conditioning, as expected, was not an issue. Jones wasn’t exactly sitting around this spring. He worked out with Miami-based trainer David Alexander while his teammates lifted in Davie.
“That was one thing that I was told from the get-go — whenever he showed up, don’t worry about it,” Gase said. “He will be in shape. As far as I saw, the way he was moving around, he looked really good. He jumped right in there. As we were talking about yesterday, that’s what they do. What was here like — an hour and a half? — and he was able to go in and practice.”
Jones had a financial motivation to return. Had he skipped the entire minicamp, the Dolphins could have fined up $76,000. It’s unclear if they’ll punish him for the one day he missed; Gase declined to discuss the matter Wednesday.
“He’s a heck of a football player and he’s going to make us better,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “To be able to practice against him each and every day is only going to make the offense better.”