Falcons’ Defense Star Named Best Off-Ball Linebacker

Deion Jones

Getty Deion Jones #45 of the Atlanta Falcons.

Former second-round pick for the Atlanta Falcons, Deion Jones is coming off of an unbelievable 2019 season after playing a big role in the Falcons 6–2 finish last season.

Jones is by far underrated when it comes to media coverage and even Madden 21 doesn’t seem to consider him an elite player.

However, Touchdown Wire’s Mark Schofield gave him the credit he deserves in his list of 11 best off-ball linebackers feature. Jones landed at No. 8  on the list.

You come across some amazing nuggets when researching for pieces like this one. A recent favorite of mine is that in 2019, Deion Jones saw 14 snaps in a free safety alignment.

That speaks to the myriad ways Jones can impact an opposing offense. After missing the bulk of 2018 due to injury, Jones was back on the field for the Atlanta Falcons as a true three-down linebacker this past season. Against the run he is a downhill presence, although 17 missed tackles are something to watch. He is also a very solid coverage linebacker, although he did give up four touchdowns and an NFL passer rating of 101.7 a year ago, which were both career-low numbers for him. But he does have the ability to function at a high level in underneath zones and read the quarterback.

Jones’ Contribution Right Off The Bat

The Falcons selected Jones in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft. He was the eighth linebacker selected in the 2016 class. The 24-year-old instantly became a starter as a rookie.

A playmaking linebacker, Jones helped the Falcons win the NFC title as a rookie before they fell to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Yes, they blew a 28-3 lead.

Jones followed that up with a breakout season in 2017. He was a Pro Bowl selection and recorded 138 tackles, 10 for loss, and three interceptions. That year, Jones ranked fourth in the NFL with his 138 tackles.

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Jones Overcomes Injury

Jones’ 2018 was shortened to only six games due to a foot injury suffered in the Falcons’ season-opener against Philadelphia. He was placed on the injured reserve and didn’t return to the field until Week 13 against the Ravens.

In the six games that Jones appeared in, he racked up 53 tackles (34 solo) and two interceptions and one pick-six.

In just three seasons as a Falcons, Jones has recorded a total of 299 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and eight interceptions, three of which returned for touchdowns.

Jones is Considered A Long-Term Linebacker

The Falcons signed linebacker Jones to a four-year, $57 million extension with $34 million guaranteed back in July of 2019. Clearly, the Falcons were thinking about the future on the defensive side of the ball and locking in Jones.

Jones’ new contract has the second-highest annual value among all NFL inside linebackers. Over the next four seasons, he’s set to earn $57 million, with an $18.8 million signing bonus and a total of $34 million guaranteed.

ESPN stated Jones’ contract extension was important for the Falcons in the long haul.

“Deion Jones is tough, smart, fast, instinctive, a sure-tackler, a leader, team captain and arguably the best coverage linebacker in the NFL,” ESPN’s Field Yates added after Adam Schefter broke the news of Jones’ contract extension. “He’s the ideal fit for what the Falcons want to do defensively. Hard to overstate how important this extension is to this franchise.”

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