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Analysis of Deion Jones’ new contract and how it impacts the Falcons this year and beyond

Yet again, the team gets a great player signed without breaking the bank.

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons and linebacker Deion Jones agreed to a four-year extension last week, shortly after the deal with Grady Jarrett was finalized. Undoubtedly, the cap space freed up by the Jarrett deal gave the team some breathing room and made it easier to get Deion locked up for another four years. With Jones set to be a free agent in 2020, getting him signed now will help him focus on the season at hand and also gives the team the opportunity to focus on other free agents — like Austin Hooper - during the season or as the season comes to a close.

Let’s take a look at the new deal for Debo and how it is laid out.

Contract details

Deion Jones agreed to a four-year extension (five-year deal) with $57 million in new money and $18.8 million guaranteed at signing. He’ll get a total of $34 million guaranteed in the total contract. As part of the extension, his 2019 cap hit will change. His original 2019 salary of roughly $1.1 million will now be $1.95 million. He’ll also get a signing bonus of $11 million and a $7 million option bonus in 2020. His 2019 and 2020 salaries are fully guaranteed. His 2021 salary is guaranteed for injury only, but will vest to a full guarantee on the fifth day of that league year.

Implications for 2019

Before the contract, Debo had a 2019 cap hit of a little over $1.4 million. After this deal, his 2019 cap hit increases to about $4.7 million. As it stands right now, the new deal still leaves the Falcons with roughly $7.5 million of cap space before the Allen Bailey deal hits the books. With Bailey figuring to account for $3 to $4 million in 2019, the Falcons should go into the season with somewhere between $3 and $4 million in cap space. Any cap room they don’t use in 2019 will roll forward to 2020, which could be critical.

Going forward

For 2020, Deion is set to make a base salary of $5.85 million with a roster bonus of $520,000. That will raise his cap hit to $10.3 million. Assuming the NFL salary cap reaches the common projection of $200 million, the Falcons will go into 2020 $3.4 million OVER the salary cap. This is not including the Allen Bailey cap hit and any adjustments made for Julio Jones as well. Obviously, this is a precarious position for the team to be in and will force them to make some tough decisions next year. You can expect to see several contract restructures (converting salaries to bonuses to push the cap hit down the road) and several notable player cuts.

His cap hits in 2021 and 2022 are $12.6 million and $14.1 million respectively. His final year of the deal — 2023 — will cost $16.4 million, though it’s highly likely the team and the player will want to work out an extension if he’s still playing at a high level. It should be noted that he’ll still be just 29 years old in 2023, so another big contract likely awaits him if his career continues as it has.

The reality is that having a really successful draft class, as the Falcons did with the 2016 unit, often means breaking the bank and facing salary cap struggles as a result. This is a league driven by talent, and that talent is going to get paid — either here or elsewhere. Keeping Deion Jones made perfect sense, and the fact that this deal did not eclipse the ridiculous contract given to C.J. Mosley is a credit to the team and to Jones.

What are your thoughts on the deal given to Debo?

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