Jason Jones

Saints Release DE Jason Jones

The Saints have released veteran defensive end Jason Jones, according to a source who spoke with Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune (on Twitter). It was a short stay in New Orleans for Jones as he was signed roughly two weeks ago. 

Jones, 31, appeared in 14 games last season with Miami, racking up 22 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Late last year, he was slapped with a substance abuse violation that prompted the Dolphins to release him before their first-round playoff game against the Steelers. The unfortunate ending to Jones’ 2016 campaign might be the culprit for the lack of interest he received this summer. Jones sat on the market until the Saints came calling in August, and now he’s out of work once more.

The veteran, who has 109 career games (70 starts) under his belt, has also spent time with the Titans, Seahawks, and Lions.

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Saints Sign Jason Jones, John Hughes

The Saints have busy this morning, adding several names to their roster. According to Nick Underhill of The Advocate (via Twitter), the team has signed defensive end Jason Jones, tight end Braedon Bowman, and defensive tackle John Hughes. In a following tweet, Underhill reports that the Saints have signed defensive back Malik Foreman, while ESPN’s Mike Triplett tweets that the team also added wideout Xavier Rush. Finally, the organization placed defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence on the injured reserve (via Underhill on Twitter).

Jason Jones (Vertical)Jones, 31, is the most experienced member of that grouping, as the 31-year-old has 109 career games (70 starts) under his belt. After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Titans, the former second-rounder has bounced around a bit, playing for the Seahawks, Lions, and Dolphins. He appeared in 14 games last season with Miami, compiling 22 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Hughes, a former third-rounder, also has more than 50 career NFL games to his name, although he only appeared in six games last season between the Browns and Buccaneers. His best season came during his rookie campaign in 2012, when he collected 34 tackles and three sacks.

Bowman, a former standout at South Alabama, had brief stints with both the Jaguars and Jets last season. Rush, a former receiver out of Tulane, spent some times with the Eagles last year. Finally, Foreman, a former Tennessee product, recorded three interceptions and 14 passes defended during his four-year college career. The defensive back had reportedly signed with the Texans earlier this offseason, but a neck injury caused both sides to pause.

The Saints added Lawrence back in May, but the undrafted rookie was subsequently placed on the NFI list. The former Auburn player missed the end of his college career after undergoing knee surgery.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Dolphins Release DE Jason Jones

The Dolphins announced that they have released defensive end Jason Jones. Jones recently returned from suspension. Jason Jones (vertical)

[RELATED: Dolphins To Release DL Mario Williams This Offseason]

Miami decided this week that they would not be using Jones in the first-round playoff game against the Steelers, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. It’s possible that Jones reacted poorly to that news, because the Dolphins have decided they do not want to have Jones around at all. Jones, 30, appeared in ten Dolphins games this season. He posted 2.5 sacks, 23 tackles, and a fumble recovery. With Jones out, Mario Williams will play Sunday against Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, in another surprising development, quarterback Ryan Tannehill returned to practice today. Previous reports indicated that Tannehill would definitely not play this weekend, but today’s news could open the door slightly to that possibility. At minimum, it’s a promising sign for his availability going forward, should Miami win this weekend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Patriots, Gronk, Bills

The Dolphins have received a roster exemption for defensive end Jason Jones as he returns from a two-game suspension, according to Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com (Twitter link). The exemption expires Wednesday, so Jones, who was banned for a substance abuse violation, must be activated by the middle of the week. Jones, 30, has appeared in ten Dolphins games this season, and posted 2.5 sacks, 23 tackles, and a fumble recovery.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • By reaching 950 yards rushing on the season, Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount earned a $200K incentive bonus on Sunday, tweets Joel Corry of CBSSports.com, who adds that Blount had already notched a separate $250K in incentives this year. Blount, who turns 30 years old today, signed a one-year deal with a base value of $1MM to return to New England this spring. So far, he’s ran for 957 yards and leads the league with 13 rushing touchdowns.
  • The Bills face a dilemma next spring, as they must choose whether to exercise an option on quarterback Tyrod Taylor that would lock in more than $30MM in guarantees, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. Taylor has performed at a slightly below average level this year (19th in DYAR, per Football Outsiders), but injuries at many of Buffalo’s skill position shave made it difficult to truly evaluate Taylor. “I think Tyrod is an outstanding quarterback,” said Bills head coach Rex Ryan. “I really do. Hopefully we’ll find out soon if we really have a full deck of how good this kid could really be.”
  • Speculation has arisen following Rob Gronkowski‘s season-ending back injury that the Patriots could look to either trade or release their star tight end, but Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap doesn’t think that’s a likely scenario. While Gronkowski is by no means a bargain, he is inarguably the best tight end in the league, and New England pays him accordingly. The most likely outcome involves the Patriots allowing Gronk the chance to get healthy in 2017, and then gauging his value at that point, argues Fitzgerald.

Dolphins’ Jason Jones Suspended Two Games

Winners of five straight, the Dolphins have emerged as a legitimate playoff contender. They will continue their postseason push in the short-term without Jason Jones, however, with the newly acquired defensive lineman being suspended for two games, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).

Jones incurred this suspension for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated led to this, the Herald’s Barry Jackson reports (on Twitter). He will be eligible to return to action Dec. 4 against the Ravens. Jones will not appeal the ban.

The Dolphins will have the opportunity to add a player to the 53-man roster, which they will do soon, per Salguero (via Twitter). Jones played in all 10 Dolphins games this season, his first with the team, and started five. He’s registered 2.5 sacks, 23 tackles and recovered a fumble.

Miami features a talented defensive line, with the presences of Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips and Cameron Wake helping to stem the tide of losing Jones for two games. The 30-year-old defensive lineman had played in at least 15 games the previous two seasons.



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Major Roster Changes Looming For Dolphins?

At 1-4 with a minus-31 point differential, the Dolphins have been among the NFL’s worst teams this season. There are clearly weaknesses throughout the Dolphins’ roster, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes that the team has plenty of players it no longer wants. As a result, executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, general manager Chris Grier and head coach Adam Gase are likely to oversee a significant makeover during the offseason.

[RELATED: Cameron Wake Won’t Request Trade]

The Dolphins already began moving on from players who aren’t part of the solution earlier this week, cutting offensive linemen Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner on Tuesday. Turner is now with the Ravens, who claimed him on waivers, but Salguero reports that the Dolphins couldn’t find any takers when they shopped him and Thomas.

With Turner and Thomas gone, there are a slew of other Dolphins with iffy futures, according to Salguero. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and offensive lineman Branden Albert are among those with nebulous statuses beyond this year, though Salguero doesn’t expect Miami to move on from either. Running back Arian Foster, tight end Jordan Cameron and tackle Jermon Bushrod are all impending free agents who are doubtful to return in 2017 (Cameron could retire). Receiver Kenny Stills‘ deal also expires at season’s end, and Salguero notes that he has a fan in Gase, but the Dolphins haven’t been willing to commit a multiyear deal to him yet. Unless that changes prior to free agency, Stills could head elsewhere for a raise.

Mario Williams

Defensively, ends Mario Williams, Jason Jones and Andre Branch, linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi, and cornerback Byron Maxwell might be in new uniforms next year. Williams and Maxwell, two high-profile offseason additions, look as though they’ll be one and done in Miami, per Salguero. The two have underwhelmed with the Dolphins, who would save $14MM (compared to $5MM in dead money) by releasing them prior to next season. The only other member of the group who’s signed past 2016 is Misi. However, Misi’s career could be in jeopardy, and releasing him would free up $4.2MM in spending room at the cost of just $578K in dead money next season – the final year of Misi’s contract.

Given that the Dolphins’ season isn’t even halfway over, at least some of these individuals could play their way out of the doghouse over the next 11 games. The Dolphins are currently on track for a sizable house cleaning, though, and with the 4-1 Steelers and 3-2 Bills next on their schedule, they could enter their Week 8 bye at 1-6.

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Dolphins Sign Jason Jones

MONDAY: 10:40am: It’s a done deal, according to Jones’ agent (Twitter link).

SUNDAY: 6:08pm: The Dolphins have agreed to terms with free agent defensive end Jason Jones, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Jones will sign a one-year deal with Miami on Monday, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Jason Jones (Vertical)

Jones, who turns 30 years old in 10 days, had to wait quite awhile to find a new home, as he’ll sign with the Dolphins roughly two months after the start of the free agent period. By waiting until today to sign Jones, Miami was probably aiming to protect any 2017 compensatory picks it might be entitled to, as any free agent signed after May 12 does not factor into the compensatory formula.

The Dolphins first hosted Jones for a visit way back on March 10, and then took another meeting with him in mid-April. Between those two visits, Jones also garnered interest from both the Steelers and Cowboys, but Miami had reportedly kept in touch with him throughout the past several months. Jones ranked as PFR’s No. 13 edge defender heading into free agency, and was one of just three of our top-15 edge players — along with Greg Hardy and O’Brien Schofield — who had yet to find a job.

Jones had spent time with both the Seahawks and Titans before landing with the Lions prior to the 2013 season. After a injury-shortened 2013 during which he appeared in only three contests, Jones started 31 games over the past two years with Detroit, racking up 9.5 sacks over that span. Pro Football Focus ranked Jones as the No. 43 edge defender in the NFL last year, among 110 qualifiers.

Miami’s defensive line will look quite a bit different in 2016 than in did in 2015 — while star tackle Ndamukong Suh is still around, the Dolphins will now field new additions Jones, Mario Williams, and Andre Branch at defensive end, where the club lost Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby to free agency. Fellow end Cameron Wake, meanwhile, recently agreed to an extension through the 2017 season. Additionally, former No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan is reportedly working towards reinstatement from suspension, and could factor into Miami’s 2016 plans.

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AFC East Rumors: Dolphins, Jones, Tunsil, Bills

As the Dolphins welcome their newest draft class this week, they are also saying goodbye to a recent third-round pick. Damontre Moore, who was taken with the No. 81 overall pick in 2013 by the Giants, was waived by Miami on Tuesday. While Moore has 45 NFL games to his credit, he’s perhaps best known by fans for his fight with former teammate Cullen Jenkins over a pair of free Beats by Dre headphones. That skirmish ultimately brought Moore to Miami where he racked up four tackles and one sack in three games.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins have kept in close contact with defensive end Jason Jones and a potential deal remains on the radar, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets. Jones met with Miami twice this offseason – once in early March and once in mid-April. The former second-rounder spent the past three seasons with Detroit, where he started each of his 34 games. In 2014 and 2015, Jones totaled 53 tackles, 9.5 sacks, four passes defended, and three forced fumbles through his two healthy seasons. In 2013, the soon-to-be 30-year-old was hampered with injuries.
  • It was previously reported that Dolphins first-round pick Laremy Tunsil would avoid instant enrollment in the league’s substance abuse program, but nothing has been determined yet one way or another, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today writes. “Any incoming player with behavior or conduct involving a substance of abuse will be evaluated by the program’s advisors. Those clinical professionals – not the club, league or union – will determine whether based on that evaluation the player should be entered into the program. Neither the club nor the league has a role in that process, and are not notified of their decision,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email. Players in “Stage 1” of the program are subject to a treatment plan as well as drug tests which can vary in frequency depending on each case. Tunsil maintains that the infamous video of him from draft night was filmed more than two years ago. If that is proven to be true, then the offensive lineman will likely avoid increased monitoring for recreational drugs.
  • Now that the draft is out of the way, Bills GM Doug Whaley says that he’ll shift his focus to getting extensions done with the team’s key players in contract years. “Negotiations took a hiatus for draft weekend,” he told WGR 550 (audio link; transcript via BuffaloBills.com). “We’ll regroup this week and set a game plan through to the minicamp. I’ll sit down with Jim Overdorf and reach out and see if we can just keep the lines of communication open.” Earlier tonight, of course, Whaley reached agreement on a massive new deal with left tackle Cordy Glenn. Tyrod Taylor and Stephon Gilmore are also slated to hit the open market after the 2016 season and Whaley says he’s “supremely confident” that he can fit all three players on extensions under their salary cap heading into 2017.

Extra Points: Brady, Cowboys, Panthers

Robert Kraft addressed the reinstatement of Tom Brady‘s suspension on Friday night, and the Patriots owner certainly didn’t mince his words.

“Number one, there is no finer ambassador for the game of football, and the New England Patriots, than Tom Brady,” Kraft said, via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. “We always have had, and will continue to have, Tom’s back. Especially when he’s being treated unfairly. He knows that. All the decisions that this organization and I personally have made throughout this ordeal have been focused on putting Tom in the best possible position for success.”

“Number two, I have been in constant communication with Tom over the past 16 months and we’ve had numerous conversations this past week. We are both on the same page and he knows exactly where my allegiances, and the total team’s [allegiances] are, relative to the extremely unfair discipline that he has been subjected to.”

“I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied, and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise, and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”

The Patriots have seemingly started preparing for Brady’s absence, as the organization selected quarterback Jacoby Brissett during last night’s third round.

Let’s check out some more non-draft-related notes from around the NFL…

  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee underwent minor knee surgery yesterday, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Expected recovery time is two weeks for the 29-year-old. The former second-round pick finished last season with 128 tackles, a career-high.
  • The Cowboys are no longer pursuing veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey, tweets Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram. The writer notes that the team also won’t be adding former-Lions defensive lineman Jason Jones.
  • ESPN.com’s David Newton believes the Panthers will pursue a veteran cornerback following the draft (Twitter link).