Proposed Trade Sends Cowboys a Former Pro Bowler

Deion Jones

Getty The Cowboys could land Falcons Linebacker Deion Jones.

The Dallas Cowboys have another opportunity to reunite defensive coordinator Dan Quinn with one of his former Atlanta Falcons players. Former Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones’ days with the Falcons appear to be numbered, and the Cowboys are being labeled as the best fit to trade for the veteran defender. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox explained why the Cowboys are the top trade destination for Jones.

“Rob Phillips of the Cowboys’ official website called linebacker a ‘position to watch’ during the late offseason, and Jones would be a prime target,” Knox wrote on June 13. “He had his lone Pro Bowl campaign under current Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who was the Falcons head coach in 2017.

“However, any trade would likely wait until after the season kicks off and involve minimal compensation. The 27-year-old underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to miss the remainder of offseason workouts.”

ALL the latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Cowboys!

Jones Is Heading to an ‘Almost-Certain Exit’ From Falcons

Jones is owed more than $20 million over the next two seasons, the remainder of his four-year, $57 million contract that expires in 2023. Jones’ base salary of $9.6 million is why the Cowboys can likely snag Jones for just a day-three pick.

Atlanta has little leverage in trade negotiations because interested teams know that the Falcons may end up releasing Jones. The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz noted that an “almost-certain exit” is coming for Jones with a “low draft pick” being enough for a team like the Cowboys to acquire him.

“Some NFL teams have held off cutting or trading players until June to minimize the 2022 salary-cap hit by pushing dead money to 2023,” Schultz detailed on May 23. “Count Jones’ almost-certain exit from Atlanta among the casualties. He is paid far too much money for far too little production and clearly isn’t part of the team’s long-term rebuilding plan.

“But getting another team to take Jones’ guaranteed salary of $13.64 million (base and bonuses) won’t be easy — even for a low draft pick.”

Atlanta Could Ultimately Release Jones

Jones notched 137 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six pass deflections, four quarterback hits and two sacks during his 16 appearances in 2021. The Cowboys already have a talented linebacker group led by Micah Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch. Jabril Cox showed flashes during his abbreviated rookie season prior to sustaining a season-ending ACL injury.

Dallas also drafted Sam Williams, a favorite of Quinn’s during the pre-draft process, with the No. 56 pick. Williams gives the Cowboys some position versatility at both linebacker and edge rusher.

Despite the promising young core, the Cowboys could use more depth at the position, and they have the salary cap space to be able to absorb Jones’ deal. According to Spotrac, the Cowboys have $19.9 million in remaining cap space, which would allow Dallas to make a couple more key additions before training camp. Jones’ situation is worth monitoring because there is a chance the Falcons opt to release him if they are unable to find a trade partner.

Jones is recovering from an offseason shoulder procedure that also limits his trade value. The Cowboys could be first in line if Jones is ultimately released before the season, and if they are, Jones could seamlessly transition into Quinn’s defensive scheme under Quinn.