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Report: Falcons begin contract negotiations with 2020 free agent Deion Jones

Getting a jump on signing their most essential defender is a great idea.

Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Falcons have long been one of the better teams in the NFL when it comes to getting deals done early. This offseason thus far has been an object lesson in what can happen if you can’t get that done, as Vic Beasley will be here for $12.8 million on a one year deal and Grady Jarrett was just given the franchise tag as the team tries to get something long-term done.

Given that, it’s no great surprise that the Falcons are already opening up contract talks with Deion Jones, their star middle linebacker and the next huge contract heading their way. Debo won’t be a free agent until after the 2019 season, but avoiding a situation where the team needs to consider a tag or even letting Jones walk is paramount given his importance to this defense.

Consider this: Debo will only be 25 years old in 2019, and while he’s coming off a major injury, he was still a phenomenal player in just six games. He managed 53 tackles, six pass deflections, two interceptions, a forced fumbles, a sack, and a defensive touchdown over that span despite clearly being a little rusty, and the two seasons prior he managed over 100 tackles, three interceptions, and over 10 pass deflections. His speed and athleticism mean he can get involved in plays he’s light years away from when they begin, his instincts are so good he can make life miserable for opposing offenses, and he’s still young enough to get even better. The defense simply isn’t as fast and physical without him, and he’s arguably the single most crucial defender the Falcons have.

There’s little question Jones will be looking to blow by Luke Kuechly for the most lucrative inside linebacker contract in the NFL, which means north of $12.35 million in annual average value. The Falcons will be challenged to do that with their current cap situation, but aside from retaining the likes of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Grady Jarrett, it’s the most essential signing they can possibly get done. I fully expect them to, and I’m glad they’re starting relatively early.

Hopefully, the negotiations with Jones will proceed apace and the team will have him locked up before the 2019 season ever begins.