After training camp practice on Wednesday, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith spoke to the media and gave an injury update on Deion Jones.
Arthur Smith on Deion Jones: he’s heading in the right direction. No timeline on return just yet.
— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) August 3, 2022
Jeff Schultz of The Athletic recently reported the Falcons have failed in their attempts to trade Jones but will not cut him. The belief is the former LSU Tiger won’t be a distraction to the team, while the financial incentives to cut him don’t make sense.
According to OverTheCap, cutting him would create nearly $19 million in dead money with a savings of $1.07 million this season, but the advantage would be him being off the books next season. The Falcons would have cap savings in 2023 of $13.1 million and dead money of $5.3 million. If they did indeed part ways with Jones in this fashion, Atlanta would have a record-breaking $82 million in dead cap, which is 40% of the total cap.
Obviously, that isn’t the ideal scenario. That is a ton more dead money for a team that is already setting records in that sense. If it were the Falcons’ preference, they’d trade him with a June 1st designation. The dead cap figure would only be $5.34 million in 2022 and 2023, with savings of $14.7 million and $13.1 million, respectively.
Atlanta placed Jones on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which means the team can’t trade him until he’s activated. So, even if the team does find a suitor, which will likely come because of an injury, Jones won’t be dealt until he’s healthy.
Jones is the highest-paid linebacker for the upcoming season with a cap hit north of $20 million and has played like anything but the top-earning player at his position. For several seasons now, Debo’s effectiveness has dropped with many concerns about his attitude and leadership qualities. Given the team’s lowly expectations, it won’t affect the team much either way if he’s here. The defense as a whole should improve, so the staff and front office may want to see how he fairs the second season in a new system. However, if he’s considered a negative influence in the locker room, the Falcons might not have a choice in parting ways with Jones.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire