Why Bears Likely Wouldn't Take Chance on Linebacker Deion Jones

Why Bears likely wouldn't take chance on linebacker Jones originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

When you're on the ground floor of a rebuild like the Bears are, you look for any opportunity to improve your roster.

That includes swings on undrafted free agents and fliers on players who have previously performed at a high level but have seen their production dwindle.

So, when The Athletic's Jeff Schultz reported Tuesday that the Atlanta Falcons likely will either trade or cut linebacker Deion Jones, it was fair to picture the Bears as a potential landing spot.

Schultz noted the Falcons would prefer to find a trade partner for Jones post-June 1, giving them the most cap savings. However, it's unlikely a team will take on Jones' contract given the downturn in his play, which means a post-June 1 cut could be on the horizon.

While the thought of grabbing Jones, a 27-year-old former Pro Bowler, off the scrap heap could be enticing to fans, it's unlikely the Bears bite for a few reasons.

First of all, Jones' play has deteriorated over the past few seasons, and he was atrocious in 2021.

Per Pro Football Focus, Jones graded out as the fourth-worst linebacker in the NFL last season among those who played the required number of snaps. In addition, Jones was graded as the worst coverage linebacker last season, a weakness that opponents routinely exploited. He also missed 16.9 percent of his tackles, the fifth-most among linebackers.

Jones' pass-rush grade (69.5) was adequate but not good enough to warrant bringing him into a linebacker room that already has Roquan Smith and Nicholas Morrow.

There's also another reason that should take Jones off the Bears' radar.

The Bears, like the Falcons, are trying to accumulate and build around young talent. When building around youth, it's important for veterans like Jones to lead the way and set the tone. But Schultz noted Jones has not been a "leadership presence" for the Falcons' young players, which is another reason he's unlikely to be in Atlanta much longer.

New head coach Matt Eberflus is working on building a winning culture at Halas Hall. It wouldn't appear Jones would be a good fit on or off the field.

If Jones hits the market, teams like the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets might be interested. But I don't see Jones fitting what the Bears are trying to build.

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