RENTON – Walter Jones continues to rehabilitate his left knee and said he hopes to play next season.
The veteran tackle also remains one of the largest questions facing whoever the Seahawks hire to serve as their president.
Jones, who turns 36 this month, is one of the best players in franchise history, but it has been two knee surgeries and 20 regular-season games since he played. Jones was in the locker room after attending the team’s final meeting Monday morning and was asked about the prospects that he will return to the field next season after missing all of this season.
“I’m still on that road of trying to get back,” Jones said. “Hopefully, I still can.”
It’s one of the million-dollar questions facing Seattle.
Well, actually, that’s not right. It’s more like a $7.3 million question. That’s how much Jones is scheduled to earn.
Seattle can afford to be patient in terms of Jones’ recovery. If he were to be cut, the remaining signing-bonus money to be accounted for under the salary cap is relatively small, less than $500,000. That means the team can wait to see how he progresses and if he’s ready to play.
Jones said he expects the team to make a decision on his status well before training camp begins.
“It’s going to be a situation where the decision is going to be made pretty early,” Jones said. “So hopefully in the next couple of months the decision will be made.”
Jones has not played since injuring his left knee before Seattle’s Thanksgiving loss in Dallas in 2008. He gave up two sacks to the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware that game and didn’t play again that season. He underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in December 2008, tried to come back for training camp but underwent a subsequent arthroscopic procedure to clean out scar tissue.
His recovery has been complicated by the fact he is limited in the type of anti-inflammatory medication he can take because of a kidney condition. The pain he felt in his left knee prevented him from playing at the level he wanted to return at. He was placed on injured reserve after Seattle’s sixth game of the season.
Jones was asked to handicap the chances that he will return to play in 2010.
“I don’t know man,” Jones said. “I’m not a good golfer so I don’t know. I feel good. I feel good about everything. It’s still going to take time and it’s going to be a situation where I have to be smart about everything and they have to be smart about everything, and I understand that.”
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