The former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver signed a one-year deal Friday to join the Bengals, according to multiple published reports. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported the deal is worth worth around $700,000. The Bengals' official Web site reported the deal likely will be close to minimum salary with incentives.
"He's had troubles like Chris (Henry), but I give (team president) Mike Brown credit," Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco told the team's Web site. "He's not afraid to give people second chances.
"I just want to say, 'Thank you.' Matt can play. I think it's great. He's fast as hell and he (doesn't drop anything). He gives us height and that is something we've been missing a little without Chris. He gives us a presence and another weapon for Carson (Palmer) to use."
The move is a low-risk agreement similar to the one that brought troubled running back Larry Johnson to Cincinnati for the last half of the 2009 season.
Jones, who's 6-foot-6 and regarded as a speedy red-zone threat, also had an offer from the Tennessee Titans, according to various media outlets.
The Bengals' official site had reported that Jones worked out for the team Thursday, and former Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman threw him passes. Former Titans and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, who like Matt Jones has a checkered past and didn't play last season, also worked out for the Bengals but reportedly wasn't offered a contract.
Since Matt Jones didn't play last season, he can sign with a team before the March 5 start of free agency.
The Bengals' priority during the offseason is to improve a passing game that ranked 26th in the NFL despite a full season from quarterback Carson Palmer. The Bengals lost T.J. Houshmandzadeh to the Seattle Seahawks in free agency after the 2008 season and tried to replace him with Laveranues Coles, who struggled. Chris Henry broke his arm and later died after a fall from a truck during a domestic dispute.
Jones was the Jaguars' first-round draft pick in 2005, but he started just five games in his first three seasons. His best season came in 2008, when he had a career-high 65 catches for 761 yards. He also was arrested in Arkansas and charged with cocaine possession in July of that year.
In a plea agreement, Jones was ordered to participate in a league-sponsored program that provides substance-abuse counseling. He also had to undergo random drug tests. The NFL suspended Jones for the final three games of the 2008 season for violating its substance-abuse policy.
The Jaguars waived Jones last March after he was jailed for violating his plea agreement. Jones failed an alcohol screening and told a judge that he drank beer while golfing with friends.
Jones has 166 receptions for 2,153 yards and 15 touchdowns in four NFL seasons. He played quarterback at the University of Arkansas, but the Jaguars moved him to receiver after drafting him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.