Cowboys Urged to Sign Former Pro Bowler Amid Key Injury

The Dallas Cowboys could be an ideal landing spot for an ex-Pro Bowl linebacker.

As suggested by Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, the best remaining free agent option for the Cowboys is none other than linebacker Deion Jones. Ballentine argues that the season-ending injury to rookie linebacker DeMarvion Overshown should motivate Dallas into hitting the free agent market to sign a veteran.

“To that end, it would make sense to hit the free-agent market to sign a linebacker,” writes Ballentine. “With DeMarvion Overshown on injured reserve with a torn ACL, they lost a crucial piece of depth behind Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark. Deion Jones would make the most sense. The veteran is available after the Carolina Panthers cut him.”

Deion Jones Played Under Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn

The pitch to sign Jones isn’t a surprising one considering his past affiliation with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Jones began his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, playing under Quinn during his tenure as head coach with the Falcons until his firing in 2020.

Under Quinn’s coaching, Jones racked up four different 100-tackle seasons, including garnering a Pro Bowl selection after racking up a career-high 138 tackles following the conclusion of the 2017 season. Jones ranked fourth in the NFL in tackles during the 2017 season.

During Jones’ stint with the Falcons — he played in Atlanta through the 2021 season — he led the Falcons in tackles during each of his first two seasons.

“It doesn’t hurt that the best days of his career came in Atlanta when Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the head coach there,” writes Ballentine. “The 28-year-old is familiar with Quinn and was an asset for the Cleveland Browns last season.”

Deion Jones No Longer a Pro Bowl-Level Player Entering 2023 Season

According to Pro Football Focus, Jones posted an 87.6 defensive grade during the 2017 season, a 73.7 grade during the 2018 season and a 76.6 defensive grade during the 2019 season. Jones ranked fourth in the NFL in defensive grade during the 2017 season.

The 28-year-old linebacker more recently spent time with the Cleveland Browns, appearing in 11 games with the team following his trade from the Falcons midway through the 2022 season. Jones racked up 44 tackles and 2.5 sacks in five starts.

However, his play was a far cry from his peak in Atlanta, as he posted one of the worst defensive grades among linebackers, posting a 48.3 defensive grade. Among linebackers with at least 100 snaps last season, Jones ranked in the bottom 20 in terms of defensive grade.

He also signed a contract with the Carolina Panthers during the offseason, but was released before final roster cuts in August.

With that being said, Jones could find some of his peak form in Dallas under Quinn in a smaller role. The Cowboys aren’t looking Jones to be the elite linebacker he was during the early seasons of his career — in fact, they’d just look for him to provide depth at a position that’s lacking depth following Overshown’s injury. The starters are currently locked in with Leighton Vander Esch, Devin Harper and Damone Clark.

Overshown’s injury is a pivotal one as he was not only showing himself to be the best rookie of this year’s draft class, he was likely to play a role on the defensive unit this season.

“He has been, frankly, you can make the argument, the star of the rookie class,” coach Mike McCarthy said in August, via Nick Harris of the team’s website. “He has stood out from the first time we got in the meeting room. You could see his ability right away. Obviously, you feel terrible for the young man.”

Signing Jones — who was due to play under a one-year, $1.2 million deal with Carolina before his release — to a bargain deal could pay dividends for the Cowboys.

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