The Dallas Cowboys could be an ideal destination for a former $57 million defensive playmaker.
As suggested by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, free agent linebacker Deion Jones is a free agent that the Cowboys should pursue. The 28-year-old veteran is coming off of a one-season stint with the Cleveland Browns following his trade from the Atlanta Falcons during the middle of the 2022 season.
Why the Cowboys Should Sign Deion Jones
Knox argues that Dallas’ run defense can be improved with the addition of Jones.
“Defensively, the Cowboys should look to continue strengthening their run defense,” writes Knox. “Adding Smith and Overshown is a nice start, but this remains a potential problem area for Dallas.”
Furthermore, Jones’ familiarity with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — Jones played for Quinn when he was the head coach of the Falcons from 2016 until 2020 — should allow Jones to give a boost to the Cowboys’ run defense.
“Additionally, Jones has experience playing for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who previously served as Jones’ head coach in Atlanta,” writes Knox. “Jones could help boost Dallas’ run defense, and his familiarity with Quinn’s system should allow him to do it quickly. Other linebackers, like Kyle Van Noy and Myles Jack, are out there, but Jones is a natural fit for Dallas’ defense.”
Deion Jones’ Play Has Slipped Over Past 2 Seasons
The seven-year veteran was a productive starter with the Falcons, notching at least 100 tackles during six of his seven seasons there. However, his production dipped with the Browns when he notched just 44 tackles in 11 games last season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones’ 48.3 defensive grade and 39.0 run defensive grade last season was one of the worst marks among starting linebackers last season. Last season wasn’t a mirage, as Jones posted a 34.6 defensive grade and 35.0 run defensive grade the previous year with the Falcons.
Back-to-back subpar seasons from Jones obviously has hurt his case in free agency. It wasn’t too long ago that Jones was annually putting up solid seasons, posting a 68.7 grade during the 2020 season, a 76.6 grade during the 2019 season, a 73.7 grade during the 2018 season and an 87.6 grade during his Pro Bowl season in 2017.
While Jones probably won’t regain his form that made him a star linebacker in Atlanta, he could make a dent as a role player for a Cowboys defensive unit already stacked with star power. Dallas already features arguably the best young pass rusher in the game in Micah Parsons alongside former Pro Bowlers in Leighton Vander Esch and DeMarcus Lawrence.
Dallas already previously signed a former Falcons linebacker with ties to Quinn in Dante Fowler. Fowler emerged as a pass-rushing specialist during his first season with the Cowboys last year, notching six sacks in just 343 snaps (30% of the defensive snaps).
The Cowboys’ defensive unit ranked 22nd in rushing yards allowed and 27th in rushing yards per attempt last season. Adding Jones on a veteran’s minimum deal can’t hurt as Dallas should be seeking ways to improve its run defense unit from last season.