Seahawks hope free-agent Jones can help pass rush

RENTON — Jason Jones grew up in Michigan chasing hoop dreams. The Seahawks, however, are dreaming of Jones chasing opposing quarterbacks.

Jones, who Seattle signed in free agency, is an athletic and versatile defensive lineman who is expected to upgrade the Seahawks’ pass rush in 2012, but long before he made a name for himself on the gridiron, Jones thought he had a future in basketball.

“Oh yeah, I was hoops,” Jones said after Wednesday’s offseason workout. “I grew up — my dad grew up watching Michael Jordan — so watching M.J. all the time. I grew up with the ‘Bad Boys’, the Pistons, Isiah Thomas and all those guys. So I grew up a basketball fan. My brother, he played basketball at the University of Detroit. So I grew up watching and going to his games and just sitting downstairs with my dad watching basketball.”

But while basketball was Jones’ passion, football, a sport he took up in the 11th grade, was the sport that netted him a college scholarship at Eastern Michigan. That was Jones’ only scholarship offer, which made picking a college easy, but after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans, who drafted him in second round of the 2008 draft, Jones had a lot more options when it came to picking his next destination.

In the end, Jones, who was one of the top free agent defensive lineman this offseason, signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks.

“Really, they showed me the most love out here,” Jones said.

Jones, who had a down year last year after moving from defensive tackle to defensive end, hopes to use this year to show what he can do and earn a long-term deal, while the Seahawks are happy to give him a year to showcase his talents if it means upgrading a defense that, for all of the things it did well in 2011, struggled to pressure quarterbacks.

“That’s the mindframe going into it,” Jones said. “We didn’t really get the long-term deal. Last year was kind of an off year for me, being switched out to end and moving around. But I did it for the team in Tennessee. I appreciate them and that organization. So that one-year deal is kind of the strategy for next year that hopefully I can get a long-term deal.”

Jones will play primarily as a three-technique tackle, an interior lineman whose job is to get into the backfield, especially in passing situations. But he is also capable of playing defensive end, particularly as a backup to Red Bryant in the run-stuffing five-technique role.

“(My role is) just to bring an extra pass rush to the defense, playmaking ability, just everything all around,” he said. “Having a backup for Red, being an extra body out there. If they need to plug me in, I’m ready to go anywhere.”

Herald Writer John Boyle:

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