Deion Jones

Falcons, Deion Jones Agree To Extension

Part 2 of the Falcons’ major midsummer contracts can soon be removed from the franchise’s checklist. The Wednesday negotiations between Drew Rosenhaus and the Falcons apparently went quite well, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reporting (on Twitter) Deion Jones agreed to a four-year, $57MM extension.

The fourth-year linebacker will receive $34MM guaranteed, Schefter adds, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reporting (via Twitter) part of that guarantee will be an $11MM signing bonus. The $34MM figure will also include $25.8MM fully guaranteed at signing, Florio tweets. Jones will receive $35.5MM in the first three years of this re-up, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. The Falcons and Rosenhaus met today in Atlanta to finalize the deal.

This extension falls in between C.J. Mosley‘s lofty Jets pact and the field, with the $14.25MM average making Jones the league’s second-highest-paid off-ball linebacker. It comes in nearly $1MM north of Anthony Barr‘s Vikings deal, in terms of AAV. Regarding fully guaranteed money, this pact trails only Mosley’s $43MM figure and Luke Kuechly‘s $27MM amount.

Two days after the Falcons locked up Grady Jarrett through 2022, they have their middle linebacker signed through 2023. Now, the focus will shift to the team’s highest-profile player. Julio Jones and the Falcons have been working on a new deal, one that will almost certainly make the All-Pro the league’s highest-paid wide receiver, for months. Arthur Blank‘s “Falcons for life” trio is two-thirds extended, but Julio Jones will end up with the biggest contract out of this triumvirate.

Although Deion Jones missed 10 games due to injury last season, the 2016 second-round pick has anchored Atlanta’s linebacking corps since his rookie season. Pro Football Focus graded Jones as its No. 14 linebacker last season; his placement was even higher during a 2017 Pro Bowl slate. The 24-year-old ‘backer has recorded 297 tackles, eight interceptions and three pick-6s in his 37-game career.

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Latest On Falcons’ Talks With Julio Jones, Deion Jones

Now that the Falcons have agreed to an extension with Grady Jarrett, negotiations with Julio Jones and Deion Jones stand to pick up. The franchise will continue to talk with its extension-seeking Joneses.

Deion Jones’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will meet with Falcons brass on Wednesday in Atlanta, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Jones and the Falcons have been discussing an extension since early March.

Although there is less clarity on the Julio Jones front, Ian Rapoport tweets the All-Pro wide receiver now becomes the Falcons’ top contract priority. However, a Deion Jones deal may beat this process to the finish line. Julio Jones and the Falcons still appear to have a ways to go before finalizing a deal.

Both Joneses reported to Falcons minicamp in June, and Julio expressed optimism he and the Falcons would have a new deal in place soon. Arthur Blank has said he wants both players, along with Jarrett, to be “Falcons for life.” Deion Jones has one season (at just more than $1MM) remaining on his rookie deal, while Julio Jones is signed through 2020 on his second Falcons contract. Julio’s third contract, whenever it is completed, stands to have a major impact on other extension-seeking wideouts.

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Extension Candidate: Falcons LB Deion Jones

With so much attention being paid to a potential extension for Falcons receiver Julio Jones, it’s easy to forget about the Falcons’ other player by the same surname who is pushing for a new deal. Linebacker Deion Jones has been discussing an extension as he enters his walk year, but we haven’t heard much news regarding his situation in recent weeks. 

As a former second-round pick, Jones is slated to earn less than $1.1MM in 2019, with no club option for a fifth season. In theory, the lack of an option is a good thing for players like Jones who have outperformed their draft slot, but the Falcons still have leverage thanks to his laughably low salary for the coming year. Jones isn’t necessarily the priority either – the Falcons are likely putting a greater focus on Grady Jarrett‘s contract and the aforementioned contract of J. Jones.

Jones, who won’t celebrate his 25th birthday until November, has proven to have a nose for the ball. In three seasons, he has eight interceptions to his credit, including three pick-six plays for touchdowns. He was also a tackling machine in his first two seasons, though a broken foot suffered in Week 1 of the 2018 season kept him to a total of six games last year.

The injury undoubtedly hurt his negotiating position, though a broken foot is not as devastating as a ligament tear to the knee. Jones still has serious potential at the linebacker position with plenty of room to grow before entering his prime years.

The Falcons would obviously love to keep Jones in the fold for years to come, but the skyrocketing rate for inside linebackers may prove to be a barrier. In March, C.J. Mosley passed Luke Kuechly on a rocket ship with a five-year, $85MM deal that includes $43MM fully guaranteed. Granted, this was a free agent deal, and Mosley is more accomplished than Jones, but Jones’ camp undoubtedly has those specs in mind. Meanwhile, Seahawks star Bobby Wagner is also in the hunt for a new deal, and the market could balloon even further if he puts pen to paper before Jones.

Ultimately, we expect the Falcons to get something done with their young linebacker, but he might have to wait until the other stars are addressed.

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Julio Jones, Rest Of Falcons In Camp

Led by star receiver Julio Jones, all players who did not attend Falcons OTAs arrived for the first day on minicamp, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets

That list includes the recently franchise-tagged Grady Jarrett, defensive end Vic Beasley and linebacker Deion Jones.

In addition to arriving for mandatory minicamp, Julio Jones is not worried about his contract and is sure a new deal will get done, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes.

“The situation will get handled. It’s just a matter of time when they’re going to do it. Mr. Blank has spoken, so what more do I need to say or talk about?” Jones said.

McClure notes that in addition to a reworked deal for the pass-catcher, the Falcons also hope to sign Jarrett and Deion Jones to extensions. In addition to Julio not worried about his deal getting done, Falcons owner Arthur Blank sounds just as confident.

“I’m not worried about getting the deals done. I’m speaking on behalf of Atlanta and Atlanta fans. [General manager] Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard to get them done. Coach [Dan] Quinn is supportive, as well. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when,” Blank said.

Though he did arrive at the three-day minicamp, Julio will not be participating due to a foot injury. Jones is coming off his fifth consecutive 1,400-yard campaign and led the league with 1,677 receiving yards in 2018.

Latest On Falcons’ Extension Candidates

For a second straight offseason, the subject of Julio Jones‘ contract has been a key offseason Falcons talking point. But next week, the All-Pro wide receiver will be with the team when it conducts its minicamp.

Dan Quinn confirmed (via The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz, on Twitter) the ninth-year receiver will show for minicamp, which begins June 11. So will fourth-year defensive end Vic Beasley. It is not yet certain if franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will join them, though Quinn anticipates he will. Skipping mandatory minicamp would cost the trio nearly $90K each.

Regardless of the statuses of Jones, Jarrett and fellow extension candidate Deion Jones, the Falcons expect to re-sign all three. He did not specify a plan for Beasley, who joined the group in staying away from Falcons OTAs.

We have a salary cap. We have limits that we have to think about not only today but tomorrow, and we have to balance all that off,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “But these are three great young men that we care deeply about, both personally and professionally. They are going to be Falcons for life.

I’m not worried about getting the deals done. I’m speaking on behalf of Atlanta and Atlanta fans. Thomas [Dimitroff] is working hard to get them done. Coach Quinn is supportive as well. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when.”

A new deal for Jones has been rumored for weeks now, and it will almost certainly make the 30-year-old receiver the league’s new highest-paid player at the position. Two seasons remain on the five-year, $71.25MM extension he signed in 2015. Jarrett is tethered to a $15.2MM franchise tag. Jones would have the most to gain by signing an extension before the season. The former second-round pick’s rookie deal pays him just $1.45MM. The Falcons picked up Beasley’s fifth-year option (worth $12.8MM) last year.

The Falcons, though, are light on cap space ($6.5MM, the fifth-lowest figure at the moment), so it will take some work to fulfill Blank’s vision.

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Falcons, Deion Jones Discussing Extension

The Falcons and inside linebacker Deion Jones have begun extension talks, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Jones still has a year left on his rookie deal, but Atlanta is looking to lock him down ahead of time. 

[RELATED: Falcons Use Franchise Tag On Grady Jarrett]

Jones is scheduled to make just $1.07MM in 2019 and is due for a serious pay bump. The 2016 second-round pick made an immediate impact as a rookie, registering three interceptions, two pick sixes, and 106 tackles. He followed that up with three more interceptions, 138 tackles, and a sack in 2017, leading to his first Pro Bowl selection. Last year, Jones missed the majority of the season thanks to a broken foot suffered in Week 1, but still managed two INTs, a pick six, 53 tackles, and a sack.

Currently, Panthers star Luke Kuechly leads all inside linebackers in compensation at $12.4MM per year. By locking up Jones now, the Falcons can avoid forking over similar cash to the 24-year-old.

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Injury Notes: Vikings, Packers, Colts, Bucs, Falcons

The Vikings received some excellent news on Monday when an MRI revealed cornerback Xavier Rhodes suffered a “very, very mild” hamstring injury, head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters, including Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). While Minnesota does have depth in its secondary (Mackensie Alexander, Holton Hill), the club had already lost rookie first-round corner Mike Hughes for the season. And missing Rhodes, who was named All-Pro in 2017, for any amount of time would have been devastating. After beating the Packers on Sunday night, the Vikings now have a 63% chance of earning a postseason berth, per FiveThirtyEight.com.

Let’s take a look at more injury news from around the NFL:

  • Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered two knee injuries and an ankle injury against the Vikings last night, but there is still hope he’ll be able to play against the Cardinals in Week 13, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. After being defeated by Minnesota, Green Bay will almost surely need to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs, and losing Bakhtiari certainly wouldn’t help matters. Arguably the league’s best pass-blocking tackle, Bakhtiari missed six games over his first five seasons in the NFL. If Bakhtiari’s not able to play against Arizona, former second-round pick Jason Spriggs would take over on Aaron Rodgers‘ blindside.
  • After going down with a concussion against the Dolphins, Colts running back Marlon Mack is “iffy” for Week 13, tweets Mike Chappell of Fox59. Mack missed three games with a hamstring injury earlier this year, but has averaged 16.5 carries per game since as Indianapolis’ lead back. The 6-5 Colts face a winnable game against the Jaguars next Sunday as they fight for a playoff spot, and would turn to Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to play more snaps if Mack can’t go.
  • Buccaneers receiver DeSean Jackson is headed to New York to get a second opinion on his thumb injury, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jackson was originally injured in Week 11, and while he played against the 49ers in Week 12, it still sounds as though the issue is bothering him. Elsewhere in Tampa Bay, tight end O.J. Howard — who is already on injured reserve — is facing a four-to-six week recovery timeline for his ankle ailment, tweets Laine. Given that the Bucs are already out of postseason contention, Howard isn’t a candidate to return this year.
  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said linebacker Deion Jones looks excellent but stopped short of saying Jones will be ready for Week 13, reports Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones was activated off injured reserve in advance of Week 11, but he still has yet to see the field. After originally suffering a foot injury in Week 1, Jones hasn’t played since, and his — and other key defenders’ — absences have contributed to Atlanta’s disappointing 4-7 record.

South Rumors: Pees, Kelly, Saints, Falcons

New Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees had to be hospitalized during Sunday’s game against the Colts because of a medical issue. But the 69-year-old assistant is back healthy and working with the the Titans, Mike Vrabel said Wednesday. Pees was coaching on the Titans’ practice field during their first Week 12 workout, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. The veteran DC stayed at an Indianapolis hospital overnight but returned to Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. He’s expected to make the trip to Houston for the Titans-Texans’ Monday night game.

Here’s the latest from some other South teams on Thanksgiving Eve.

  • The anchor of an improved Colts offensive line will not be available Sunday against the Dolphins. Ryan Kelly has an MCL sprain and will miss Indianapolis’ Week 12 contest. The third-year center feared a much worse injury occurred in Sunday’s win over the Titans. “I was worried about the ACL, but that’s intact. It’s reassuring,” Kelly said, via CBS4’s Mike Chappell. Kelly said he underwent knee surgery in high school and is receiving a second opinion, per Chappell. This malady does not require a corrective procedure, and it’s possible Kelly may be back soon. An addition off the Rams’ practice squad, Evan Boehm will start in Kelly’s place.
  • Signed to essentially take Dez Bryant‘s place on the Saints‘ roster, Brandon Marshall signed for the 13th-year veteran’s minimum, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. He signed for $1.02MM and will count $259K toward New Orleans’ cap. Bryant signed for slightly more than the veteran minimum — $1.25MM — with incentives tied to his deal. It’s not known if Marshall has incentives attached to his pact. He’s yet to suit up for the Saints.
  • The Falcons activated Deion Jones last week but did not deploy him against the Cowboys. The acclaimed Atlanta middle linebacker will also miss the Falcons’ Thanksgiving game in New Orleans, being declared out in advance of the NFC South rivalry matchup. Jones suffered a foot injury in Week 1 and spent two months on IR. He’s on Atlanta’s active roster now, and it’s possible the Falcons are giving him an extra 10 days to prepare for a Week 13 return. However, at 4-6, the Falcons can ill-afford any more losses if they want to preserve their fleeting playoff hopes.

Falcons Activate Deion Jones

The Falcons have had awful injury luck this year, but finally got some good news today. Linebacker Deion Jones will be activated off injured reserve, according to Adam Caplan of Sirius XM (Twitter link).

The team waived offensive lineman Rees Odhiambo in a corresponding roster move. The news couldn’t come at a better time for the Falcons, as their defense was shredded by Baker Mayfield and the Browns this past week. Jones went down with a foot injury all the way back in Week 1, and hasn’t played since.

A 2016 second round pick, Jones had blossomed into one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL. He was great at covering running backs out of the backfield, and the Falcons have been shredded by opposing backs in the passing game since he went down. In the one game he played this year, Jones had nine tackles, an interception, and two passes defended.

Jones is one of a slew of Falcons defensive players who have had extended absences. Safety Ricardo Allen is done for the year with a torn achilles, and Keanu Neal was lost for the season with a torn ACL he suffered in Week 1. Atlanta is still a ways away from full health, but this is a massive boost to the defense.

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Falcons LB Deion Jones Returns To Practice

Depleted on defense for most of the season, the Falcons stand to soon see one of their top players return to action.

Deion Jones participated in practice on Wednesday and has been designated to return from IR, per Pro Football Talk. A broken foot forced the stalwart Atlanta linebacker to IR after Week 1, which turned out to be a brutal game for Falcons injuries.

Jones has three weeks to be activated or must spend the rest of the season on IR. He tested his injured foot during a sideline session last week and has progressed back to being able to join teammates at practice. Having missed seven games, Jones would first be eligible to return for the Falcons’ Week can return at any point for the Falcons’ Week 11 contest.

Atlanta’s won three straight games, with its defense holding Washington to 14 points. But the weakened unit still ranks 29th in points allowed. Jones, a 2017 Pro Bowler who made 138 stops in his second NFL season, would bring a vital reinforcement to the suddenly back-in-contention team.

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