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Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones will miss the team’s offseason training program after undergoing a procedure to correct a shoulder injury, coach Arthur Smith told reporters in Georgia on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Jones has been a constant in the middle of the Falcons defense since being taken out of LSU in the second round of the 2016 draft. He has started all but two of the 85 games he has played in Atlanta, intercepted 11 passes, scored 8.5 sacks and scored five defensive touchdowns.
However, his role has been questioned lately. Last season, with a new defense under coordinator Dean Pees, Jones moved linebacker positions following the emergence of Foye Oluokun in the middle of Atlanta’s defense.
With Oluokun now in Jacksonville, it was unclear how Jones would be used this season – if he stays in Atlanta at all in 2022.
Jones, a 2017 Pro Bowl pick, has a ceiling of more than $ 20 million for 2022, and $ 9.64 million of his base salary along with a $ 4 million bonus has been fully guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System. If the Falcons moved on from him after June 1, they would save $ 1,067,059 in cap space, but would incur another big dead cap hit – one that could vary based on whether he was traded or released.
Of course, Atlanta could also choose to keep Jones on the list. The Falcons signed linebackers Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski in the offseason and drafted linebacker Troy Andersen out of Montana State in the second round. They also have Mykal Walker, who was the team’s No. 3 inside linebacker last season, back.
The Falcons have been clearing their list of big contracts. Atlanta has already allocated more than $ 63 million in dead money for 2022, including more than $ 40 million to quarterback Matt Ryan (traded to Indianapolis), $ 15.5 million to Julio Jones (traded to Tennessee last year) and $ 4.66 million to edge rusher Dante Fowler, who was cut earlier in the season.