TAMPA – Former Pro Bow linebacker Deion Jones, who was on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, was traded to the Browns on Sunday according to a person familar with the situation. The Falcons announed the deal on Monday
“Like any move we make, we try to do it in the best interest of the team and always be mindful of the players,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said on Monday. “We’re very appreciative of all of the players that have played here. Especially, the guys who played well. Whether if they played for us or since I’ve been here. ... Very appreciative of everything that Deion has done for us.”
The Falcons, who sent Jones and their 2024 seventh-round pick to the Browns in exchange for the Browns’ 2024 sixth-round pick, announced the trade on Monday.
Jones, who was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft, was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2017 season. He played in 85 games for the Falcons and started in 83.
Jones had offseason shoulder surgery.
Jones had one of the four big contracts that general manager Terry Fontenot cited at the NFL scouting combine.
After losing the Deshaun Watson derby, the Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Colts and took on a $40.5 million dead salary-cap hit. The Falcons extended left tackle Jake Matthews and defensive end Grady Jarrett’s contracts to lower their salary cap numbers for 2022.
Jones’ situation was the last one to be resolved.
“Our goal in every decision is to improve our organization for the long term and we believe today’s agreement does just that,” Fontenot said in a statement released by the team. “We are constantly evaluating the roster, looking at every single position and how we can improve overall, which is a 365-days-a-year process our entire football operation is focused on. We thank Deion for the impact he has had over his seven seasons in Atlanta and wish him the best on his career.”
The Falcons signed linebacker Rashaan Evans in free agency and drafted linebacker Troy Andersen in the second-round (58th overall). The Falcons also signed veteran Nick Kwiatkoski.
Evans and Mykal Walker, who left Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, have been starting this season for the Falcons. Walker was replaced in the game by Andersen as the Falcons went down 21-15.
Jones and Foye Oluokun, who led the NFL in tackles with 192 last season and signed with Jacksonville in free agency, were the starters last season on a defense that finished ranked 27th in the league. Jones had 137 tackles last season, but was replaced by Walker.
Walker played 193 defensive snaps (17%) last season and 385 defensive snaps (36%) as a rookie in 2020.
Jones had 11 interceptions with the Falcons and returned five of them for touchdowns.
Evans was taken 22nd overall in the 2018 draft. After 50 starts over 59 games, the Titans didn’t pick up his fifth-year option.
The Falcons restructured linebacker Jones’ contract to get him more cash sooner and create some salary-cap space for the team in September. The Falcons converted $8.5 million of his salary to a bonus for $6.8 million of cap space, with three voided years added to spread out the bonus. Jones had the highest salary cap number on the team, at $20 million for the 2022 season. It dropped to $13.2 million, which was done to perhaps make him more attractive to other teams.
Before the Jones trade, the Falcons were already operating with $65.6 million in dead salary cap space, a league record. Jones’s contract comes with an additional $11.8 million in dead cap space. The Falcons will play the rest of the season with $77.4 million in dead salary cap space under the $208.1 salary cap.
Next season, the Falcons will get relief from the Thomas Dimitroff-Dan Quinn era contracts and are projected to have at least $58 million in salary cap space under a projected $227 million salary cap.
For more content about the Atlanta Falcons
Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC
On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now
On Instagram at DorlandoLed
Atlanta Falcons coverage on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Bow Tie Chronicles
Atlanta Falcons 2022 NFL schedule
Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26
Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27
Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23
Oct. 2 Falcons 23, Browns 20
Oct. 9 Buccaneers 21, Falcons 15
Oct. 16 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.
Oct. 23 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Oct. 30 vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.
Nov. 6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.
Nov. 10 at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.
Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.
Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.
Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD
Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.
Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD
About the Author