As the Atlanta Falcons prepare to part ways with Deion Jones, are the Detroit Lions a match for the former Pro Bowler?
After the Atlanta Falcons drafted him in the second round of the 2016 draft, Deion Jones returned two interceptions for a touchdown as a rookie and followed by earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2017. He remained an all-around playmaker in the ensuing years.
Then came 2021. Jones registered a dismal (to put it midly) 34.6 grade from Pro Football Focus. He did not nab an interception for the first time in his career, with 17 missed tackles and a 78.6 percent completion rate allowed in his coverage.
Even within the context of a pretty bad Falcons’ defense, Jones had a disappointing and dismal season last year.
According to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic (subscription required), Jones’ departure from the Falcons is considered “imminent”. Pieces have been added to the linebacking corps in Atlanta, driving the idea Jones is on his way out. A line from Schultz’s piece is particularly scathing.
If Jones had a leadership presence for younger players, the team could justify keeping him in 2022. But he has been anything but that.”
NFL rumors: The Lions and Deion Jones a match?
It’s safe to say the Detroit Lions could still use some help at linebacker. Competition has been added, but general manager Brad Holmes could be looking toward a possible late-May, early-June wave of free agency for additional help.
The Falcons surely wouldn’t mind trading Jones, but if he’s lined up to be cut any interested teams will just wait it out. A post June-1 cut would add almost $19 million to Atlanta’s already hefty pile of dead money for 2022, but they would clear a little over $1 million in cap space.
Based on pure all-around skill as an off-the-ball linebacker, Jones is a great fit for the Lions and he won’t turn 28 until November. But Schultz’s open question about what he adds as a leader (i.e., nothing) is notable, and the coaching staff in Detroit values intangibles as much as talent.
At the right price, after he’s cut, the Lions could be in the mix to sign Jones. But it’s really no better than a coin-flip proposition they’ll have very serious interest, let alone sign him.