Jermaine Jones is a businessman.
As much as he is a fearless and tireless midfielder capable of imposing his will on the club level and international level, Jones is also savvy about his career. This much was clear as Jones came up with the strategy of becoming a media darling during the 2014 World Cup in order to help facilitate a move to MLS. That plan paid off with a multi-million dollar contract after two teams, the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution, expressed their desire to sign him after an impressive World Cup.
Two years later, Jones is on the market again and the big question surrounding the U.S. national team midfielder is just what sort of market is there for him now, at the age of 35, and coming off knee surgery?
Jones finished out his contract with the Rapids on Sunday after Colorado's playoff loss to Seattle, and immediately let it be known he plans to test the open market as he searches for one more big payday, making it clear he wants designated player money. He mentioned Europe and Mexico as potential destinations.
And MLS? The Rapids have his rights within the league, but with Tim Howard and Shkelzen Gashi occupying two designated player spots in 2017, and the Rapids needing help in the attack, a more likely move for their third DP slot will be a striker.
Who else in MLS might be interested in Jones at a potential seven-figure designated player salary? If potential suitors watched him on Sunday against Seattle, they saw a player who can certainly influence a game and who might just be worth picking up to boost the midfield. He has a king-sized personality, and plays with a swagger that has been shown to rub off on his teammates.
So why wouldn't teams line up to scoop him up in MLS? A seven-figure salary for a midfielder in their mid-30s who isn't an international superstar is far from the norm in MLS. While that may be, Jones is a unique player, one who has already shown he can be an impact player in MLS, and one hwo still may have a role to play with the U.S. national team.
Who might be interested in him in MLS? Here are some potential destinations for Jones:
Jones has made no secret of his love for the city of Los Angeles, where his family has lived throughout his time in MLS. With Steven Gerrard retired and Robbie Keane gone, there are two DP slots to fill. Could the Galaxy convince Jones to come aboard for a lower-level DP salary?
From a soccer standpoint, Jones would certainly help fill a void the Galaxy created when they shipped Nigel de Jong to Turkey, but the de Jong move was made because the Galaxy didn't want to be on the hook for a seven-figure salary for a defensive midfielder in his mid-30s. As much as Jones wants one more big payday, it isn't a stretch to think he would play for the Galaxy at a discounted price.
It would likely depend on who winds up taking the Galaxy coaching job. Jones isn't every coach's cup of tea, but the right coach might see the value in plugging Jones into the heart of a midfield that will also feature Gio Dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget.
With Frank Lampard gone and Andoni Iraola retired, the NYCFC midfield could use a boost, and Jones could be just the man to bring some steel to the middle of the park. Jones' high motor on the small Yankee Stadium field could be a perfect match.
The main issue with Jones to NYCFC is the fact that NYCFC has gone 3-for-3 on marquee signings with their DP slots. Would Patrick Vieira and Claudio Reyna settle on a player like Jones when they might be given the green light to try and land another high-profile European star?
Given Vieira's preference for a structured possession-oriented system, Jones wouldn't necessarily be a good fit for that setup given his preference for a freelancing role.
Remember when the Chicago Fire were the first team to show serious interest in signing Jones as a big-money acquisition? That was before New England got involved and Jones was sent to the Revs after a rather dubious league draw.
Two terrible years later, the Fire are still struggling to find success, and have most recently been linked to a move for German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger. If reports are to be believed, the Fire are ready to drop an eight-figure contract to land the Manchester United midfielder. If they success, then there would be no need for a player like Jones.
And if the Fire can't land Schweinsteiger? Jones wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. He could certainly helped provide some of the toughness the Fire have been lacking, and could thrive in Chicago if given the freedom to roam.
The departure of Tranquillo Barnetta has left a void in the Union midfield, and while we would expect Earnie Stewart to hit the international market for a replacement, he might want to consider Jones anyway. Maurice Edu's latest injury puts his long-term prospects in doubt, and with Brian Carroll edging closer to the end of his career, the Union can use a central midfielder with Jones' motor and two-way quality.
Would the Union really want to pay Jones a seven-figure salary at the age of 35? They just might if they saw him as the perfect piece to a puzzle that could use a player just like him. There's little debate that Jones can still be a force in MLS, and the Union are very reminiscent of the 2014 New England team he helped lead to the MLS Cup final.
A Jones-Alejanro Bedoya central midfield would be a good nucleus to build around, but for a team that heads into the offseason searching for a striker, Jones might be out of the Union's price range.
As the MLS expansion team prepares to announce Adrian Heath as the club's first MLS head coach on Tuesday, the 2017 expansion entrant needs to start building a squad, and Jones could be a good building block for its inaugural season.
Would Jones be interested in helping a first-year team navigate through what would very likely be a rough first season? The better question is whether Minnesota United be willing to spend a seven-figure salary on a player of Jones' age. Given the fact he has proven himself an elite-level player in MLS, it would be something to consider.