When the Denver Broncos traded Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins ahead of the NFL Trade Deadline on Tuesday, the most important outcome wasn’t the first-round pick they received as part of the compensation package for the trade. It was the salary cap implications of not having to potentially franchise tag and trade Chubb in the offseason. Instead, they can utilize the franchise tag in a more positive way by tagging budding star defensive end Dre’Mont Jones. Tagging Jones will give the Broncos time to work out a long-term extension.
There are also salary cap implications from trading Chubb that also helps ensure a long-term extension is now likely for Jones. In 2023, the Broncos are projected to have $20 million in salary cap space with 42 players under contract. But I would assume that number changes drastically come the offseason. I think they let Graham Glasgow walk to free up $11 million there with just a $3 million hit in dead money. I could see Ronald Darby also being a casualty, but we’ll just have to see how that all goes. Either way, they would have plenty of room for free agency and to extend a key player on their defense.
So let’s talk about what that contract extension for Dre’Mont Jones might look like next offseason.
Before this year, I probably would have pegged Jones somewhere in the Top 20 range for contracts out there. More than what Denver gave D.J. Jones last season, which was a three-year, $30 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. However, I would have thought not much more. However, Jones has continued to improve and his play in 2022 has proven he is likely going to be a big time player in this league.
The former-third round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft is just 25 years old and just now coming into his prime. I would consider him a Top 10 or better interior pass rusher right now, so his cost should be rising considerably heading into next year.
Looking over the current IDL contract market, I could see him end up somewhere in that $15-18 million average per year (APY) range. If General Manager George Paton were to go big on this contract, I could see him slide in just above Jonathan Allen who had signed a four-year, $72 million contract with $35.6 million guarantees back in 2021. Getting into that Top 5 at the position could be a key psychological part of the deal too.
Allen had a very similar start to his career as Jones piling up 17.0 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, and 45 quarterback hits in his first four seasons in the NFL. As a first-round pick, that garnered a fairly big payday for him in 2021. Jones currently has 21.0 sacks, 27 tackles for a loss, and 34 quarterback hits with more than half a season left to go.
Because of his original draft status, I think we’ll likely end up seeing Dre’Mont Jones somewhere around the $15-16.5 million APY range. As a third-round pick, he could lose a bit of that first-round premium players often get with their second contract. Interior pass rushers are hard to find, so it’d be worth every penny for Denver to extend Jones in 2023 whether it be on low end of my expected range or the high.
Where do you think Dre’Mont Jones’ contract extension will end up?
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