Could a veteran signing be near for the Atlanta Falcons?
It seems that way after the team restructured linebacker Deion Jones’ deal that now gives them over $3 million in cap space.
Prior to converting $4.172 million of Jones’ deal into a signing bonus to free up $2.782 million in cap space, the Falcons had just $330,000 to spend, according to Over The Cap.
This isn’t the first time the Falcons restructured Jones’ contract. They also did it back in March where he was originally due a base salary of $8.2 million in 2021 but agreed to defer $4 million of that to the 2022 regular season and make his 2022 base salary fully guaranteed.
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Jones Cracks Top 11 NFL Linebackers
2020 was a disappointing year for the Falcons, who ended with a 4-12 overall record, which ultimately led to Jones flying under the radar.
However, while a majority of the team struggled, he still found a way to post career-high numbers and ended the season with 106 tackles, five sacks, six quarterback hits and eight QB hurries.
And with those marks, he didn’t go overlooked on Touchdown Wire’s list of the NFL’s top 11 linebackers, which ranked him as the No. 7 linebacker in the league.
Last year was not the best season for the Atlanta Falcons, and that includes linebacker Deion Jones. But even as the team was struggling Jones found ways to impact the game and continue his growth as a linebacker. He set career-high marks with five sacks, six quarterback hits and eight QB hurries, as the Falcons tried to find ways to consistently pressure the opposing passer.
Jones also has great man and zone coverage skills for a linebacker, as we saw back in 2019. While he was picked on a bit more in coverage last season — he allowed an NFL passer rating of 103.8 when targeted, the worst number of his career — he still notched a pair of interceptions and three pass breakups. If his coverage numbers return to form, he’ll appear even higher on lists like this next summer.”
In five seasons, Jones has tallied 100 tackles in four of his first five NFL seasons, along with 11 career interceptions.
The Falcons’ Linebacker Group Should Be Durable
There are a lot of question marks lingering over the Falcons 2021 defense, but one group that defensive coordinator Dean Pees should be able to count on is his linebackers group.
And it all starts with Jones, who is one of the most versatile and fastest at the position.
Along with Jones is another rising star in Foye Oluokun. Oluokon actually stole the spotlight away from Jones last season where he had better performances, including three forced fumbles against running back Ezekiel Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys. You also can’t forget how well he played against the Kansas City Chiefs when he single-handily kept them from scoring early on.
And then there is second-year linebacker Mykal Walker, who ended his rookie year having 45 tackles, one pass breakup and a forced fumble in only six starts. He was also named to Pro Football Focus‘ All-Rookie Team, despite being selected No. 119 overall.
So, while the defense, as a whole, raises a lot of concern heading into Week 1, we’ll at least have one less worry when discussing the team’s top three linebackers.