Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones will miss the team’s offseason workout program after undergoing a procedure to fix a shoulder injury, coach Arthur Smith told reporters in Georgia on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Jones has been a constant in the middle of the Falcons defense since he was taken in the second round of the 2016 draft out of LSU. He has started all but two of the 85 games he has played in Atlanta, intercepting 11 passes, getting 8.5 sacks and scoring five defensive touchdowns.
His role, however, has come into question of late. Last season, with a new defense under coordinator Dean Pees, Jones moved to linebacker positions after the emergence of Foye Oluokun in the middle of Atlanta’s defense.
With Oluokun now in Jacksonville, it was unclear how Jones would be used this season – if he even remains in Atlanta at all for 2022.
Jones, a Pro Bowl selection in 2017, has a cap hit of more than $ 20 million for 2022, and $ 9.64 million of his base salary along with a $ 4 million bonus has been fully guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System. If the Falcons moved on from him after June 1, they would save $ 1,067,059 in cap space but would incur another large dead cap hit – one that could vary based on whether or not he was traded or released.
Atlanta, of course, could also elect to keep Jones on the roster. The Falcons signed linebackers Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski in the offseason and drafted inside linebacker Troy Andersen out of Montana State in the second round. They also have Mykal Walker, who was the team’s No. 3 inside linebacker last season, returning.
The Falcons have been in the process of clearing their roster of large contracts. Atlanta already has more than $ 63 million in dead money committed for 2022, including more than $ 40 million for quarterback Matt Ryan (traded to Indianapolis), $ 15.5 million for Julio Jones (traded to Tennessee last year) and $ 4.66 million for edge rusher Dante Fowler, who was cut earlier this offseason.