Sunday, July 3, 2022

Chicago Bears Could Have Chance To Land Stud Linebacker Soon


The Chicago Bears did everything they could to help their roster this offseason. GM Ryan Poles stretched five draft picks into 11 and spread what money he had to as many positions as possible. In truth, nobody would say the job is finished. This team still has several holes on both sides of the ball. Defensively they still don’t have a definitive interior pass rusher. One of the less-talked-about issues is linebacker. While two starting jobs appear situated with Roquan Smith and Nicholas Morrow, one remains unfilled. To say nothing of depth questions.

Sometimes a team needs a bit of luck filling voids on their roster. Poles said he wasn’t done looking for upgrades. He expects to stay active through the summer and into the preseason, believing some solid players might become available. His words may prove prophetic, according to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic. He believes some notable name players will become available following the June 1st deadline when all dead money is pushed to 2023.

One name he expects to be gone is Atlanta Falcons linebacker, Deion Jones.

“Some NFL teams have held off cutting or trading players until June to minimize the 2022 salary-cap hit by pushing dead money to 2023. Count Jones’ almost-certain exit from Atlanta among the casualties. He is paid far too much money for far too little production and clearly isn’t part of the team’s long-term rebuilding plan…

…Trading Jones after June 1 would be the team’s preference. It would transfer most financial guarantees to Jones’ next team, and the dead-money hit to the Falcons would be only $5.34 million. But getting another team to take Jones’ guaranteed salary of $13.64 million (base and bonuses) won’t be easy — even for a low draft pick.”

It is interesting he labels Jones as having too little production. The former Pro Bowler had 137 tackles, two sacks, and six passes defended in 16 games for the Falcons. Granted he didn’t have any of his trademark interceptions, but part of that was playing on a terrible defense and in a new 3-4 scheme under coordinator Dean Pees. Jones had spent the majority of his career in a 4-3. Just look at his 2020 for a reminder of what he can do.

If Atlanta follows through on this plan, the Bears have every reason in the world to be interested. Jones is exactly the type of linebacker that Matt Eberflus loves: fast, instinctive, and versatile. He can blitz the quarterback, run sideline to sideline, and is especially dangerous in coverage. The Bears’ new Tampa-2 variation of defense would fit him like a glove. He’d also be more appreciated in Chicago.

Chicago Bears have every reason to be aggressive on Jones.

He’s only 27-years old. Remarkably young considering he was drafted back in 2016. He’s only missed one game in the past three seasons too. So durability isn’t a huge concern. Combine that with the obvious scheme fit, and Poles has no reason not to loosen the purse strings enough to get him to Chicago. He’d be an immediate benefit to the Bears’ defense. Imagining him and Smith together on the field makes it hard not to get excited.

It would also be a fun little return on the weird pipeline that has developed between the two teams over the past few years. No fewer than eight former Chicago Bears players are in Atlanta right now under contract. That doesn’t even include former GMs Phil Emery and Ryan Pace occupying their front office. It’s Bears South down there. Jones would be a welcome addition from the opposite direction for once.

Keep an ear out on this one next month.

Such an addition may not suddenly make the Bears contenders, but it would definitely give their retooling defense a much-needed jolt.

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