Sounds Like the Broncos Aren’t Tagging DT Dre’Mont Jones (Sup, Bears?)
Daron Payne getting the Franchise Tag from the Washington Commanders today sure was a bummer.
Payne, 25, would’ve been the premier free agent at the position had he made it to the open market. And with Washington needing to pay Montez Sweat and/or Chase Young in the not-too-distant future, I was hoping Payne would hit free agency. The Chicago Bears’ obvious needs made it easy to dream of him being a Ryan Poles target. Especially with all the space the team has under the cap. Well, at least that was the case until news of the tag came across the wires this morning.
But as we were discussing in Bullets earlier, Payne wasn’t the only option for the Bears. Sure, he might’ve been the best. However, he wasn’t the sole option. And that is an important distinction to make as we approach NFL free agency. With that being said, one of the best second-tier options appears to be on the cusp of hitting the market. Dre’Mont Jones, a Denver Broncos defensive lineman coming off a career year, reportedly won’t be getting the tag treatment.
And I hope the Bears are paying attention:
“A source told 9NEWS that the Broncos are not likely to tender Jones with the franchise tag by the deadline next Tuesday,” writes 9NEWS reporter Mike Klis. “His tag salaries if executed would be either $18.94 million if he was classified as a defensive tackle or $19.73 million if he is considered a defensive end.”
Jones looks to be a player on the rise. Moreover, he is someone whose status the Bears should be cognizant of ahead of free agency. The 26-year-old defensive lineman is coming off a big year. Jones had what I’d consider a career year with 6.5 sacks, 10 QB Hits, and 9 tackles-for-loss in 13 games. And it was a good time for it, too.
The Ohio State product checks in at No. 22 on Pro Football Focus’ list of 100 best free agents going into this offseason. PFF notes that Jones’ 138 quarterback pressures are the 19th most among players at his position since the start of the 2019 season (his first in the league). Jones can also boast a 14.5 percent pass-rush win rate over the last four years, which is the 11th best over the last four years. Again, what a time for these numbers to be amplified. Getting a push from the middle of the defensive line could help the rest of the Bears defense in a big way. And if Denver won’t tag him, maybe Chicago could entice him with a sizable pay increase. Might as well try to flex those cap flexibility muscles while you can, right?
Now, to be clear, this won’t be as simple as we’d like it to be. After all, it’s not as if the Bears are the only team needing defensive line help. Heck, Broncos GM George Paton still has an interest in retaining Jones. However, that Paton’s interest doesn’t include paying him $18-19 million on a tag suggests there are limitations to how badly he wants to keep the D-tackle in town. Everyone has their price. And because the Bears can beat any (if not all) offers, Jones is a player they should have eyes for in free agency.
Particularly with tape like this:
This is where I’d say that it feels like it is just a matter of time until his name comes up in connection with the Bears as a possible target in free agency. But we’re already at that point. ESPN listing Jones as a free-agent fit last week was ridiculously logical. Plus, a Jones signing was part of a local prediction piece from a reporter on the beat. And that has me thinking Jones is already on the radar. In other words, keep Jones’ name on your mind for the time being. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing it again.