Jaguars release former first-round draft pick Jones after his latest arrest

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars waived wide receiver Matt Jones on Monday, parting ways with the former first-round draft pick just days after his latest arrest.

Jones was jailed last week in Arkansas for violating a plea agreement that stemmed from a drug charge in 2008. The 6-foot-6 Jones, a former star quarterback at the University of Arkansas, is awaiting an April 13 court appearance.

Career Statistics
Seasons: 4

Receptions: 166

Yards: 2,153

Touchdowns: 15

After failing a drug and alcohol screening, Jones told a judge that he drank beer while golfing with friends. He assured the judge it wouldn't happen again.

The Jaguars didn't want to take a chance.

"All roster moves are decisions we feel are in the best interest of the organization," Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. "This decision is a result of our ongoing player and roster evaluations. We expect responsibility and accountability, and those are important qualities as we continue the process of building this team."

Although Jones was wildly popular in Arkansas, he wasn't revered nearly as much in Jacksonville. Fans thought his laid-back attitude was a sign he didn't care about football, and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio ripped Jones at times for his work ethic.

Many believed Jones would be released last year after he was charged with cocaine possession in July. But the 19th overall pick in 2005 had a strong preseason and stuck around despite the arrest.

Jones responded with the best season of his career, catching 65 passes for 761 yards and two touchdowns. His case, meanwhile, was moved to the drug court, where defendants submit to treatment and other restrictions, with the goal of keeping them from offending again. A defendant can wipe his record clean if the program is completed successfully.

In the plea agreement reached in October, Jones was ordered to participate in NFL-sponsored substance-abuse counseling and undergo random drug testing through the end of the football season. The judge told him to return to Fayetteville, Ark., after the season to complete the program. Jones remains in the drug-court program.

The NFL suspended Jones for the final three games last season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Jones' departure leaves Jacksonville with huge holes at wide receiver. The Jaguars released Jerry Porter last month and opted not to re-sign free agent Reggie Williams, basically leaving third-year pro Mike Walker and veteran Dennis Northcutt as the starters.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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