Jermaine Jones hails Rapids, but ready to roam in pursuit of new contract

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids’ 1-0 Western Conference Championship loss to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night marked the end of their 2016 season. But it may have also marked the end of the Jermaine Jones era in Colorado.

Jones, 35, will be out of contract this offseason and spoke with reporters regarding his contract status and Rapids future postgame.

“To be honest, right now, I don’t know,” Jones responded when asked if he expects to be a part of the Rapids squad in 2017. “I’ll go home and enjoy family time with my kids. I’m a free agent, so nobody owns my rights. So I will sit back and see what comes.

“I don’t know if I’ll stay in MLS, maybe something else comes up. I don’t know. Right now, I’ll really relax, so it’s no pressure on me. It’s always good if you always have the cards in your hands, especially if you’re a free agent.”

Jones' status is a bit more complicated than his words suggest. Though his current contract is expiring, he has yet to reach the eight years of MLS experience required to qualify for free agency within the league; as long as Colorado make an attempt to re-sign him, his MLS rights remain with the Rapids unless and until another team acquires them via trade. He is free to sign with clubs outside the league, however. 

Unable to reach mutual terms with the New England Revolution last offseason and suspended for six games due to an altercation with referee Mark Geiger in the 2015 playoffs, Jones’ situation created an inviting opportunity for the Rapids to acquire the US international via a sign-and-trade deal in early March.

“I think everybody knew that this season was special and my situation was completely different before the season,” Jones said. “But I said I don’t care about money. I’ll come and I’ll play and show everybody that I can be an impact.”

In his Colorado debut, he did just that, providing three goals and an assist in his first four games with the Rapids. But if Jones does come back to Colorado or any other MLS club, he’s hoping for another Designated Player contract, like what he received when joining New England in 2014.

“But of course, next season, I’ll be a free agent, and people know I came to this league as a DP and I think this is where I want to go back to,” he said. “I’m a free agent and we’ll see what comes, but I’m not scared to go back to Europe or scared to go to Mexico or somewhere. So everything is open for me and what’s important for me is that I feel happy with the decision, and especially my family too.”

Jones has played just 27 of 68 regular-season games over the past two seasons in MLS, missing much of that time due to international call-ups and injuries, including a four-month spell this season following a severe LCL tear suffered back in July.

Whatever the future may hold for the midfielder, Jones remained positive in his assessment of his time in Colorado and what the Rapids had accomplished this season.

“I say that it was a pleasure to play with these guys and especially with the coaching staff. If you see the whole club, they are really young,” he said. “After just two years with what they have, always coming in last position, to see what you can really build with belief and trust in each other, it’s nice.

“I’ve said it from the beginning, when I said I wanted to be a part of Colorado and I wanted to be a part of this group. I knew that people would smile and say, ‘OK, they’re in last position, let him go over there. They would not get anything out of that whole thing, especially in the West.’ I think that we proved a lot of people wrong, and to be a part of this group is something nice and it’s special.”