With a losing record in a competitive AFC North, the Cleveland Browns have struck a deal in an effort to shore up their defense.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Browns followed up their loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday by trading for Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, a 2017 Pro Bowler whose contract has become a salary cap burden in Atlanta. The Falcons will receive late-round draft compensation in return, per the report. The deal arrives roughly three weeks before the NFL’s Nov. 1 trade deadline.
Jones is in the third year of a four-year, $57 million contract that comes with $34 million guaranteed. It added up to a team-high $20 million salary-cap hit before Atlanta restructured his deal to reduce the hit to $13.2 million in the offseason. The Falcons reportedly attempted to trade him in the offseason but found no takers for his contract. The acquisition amounts to a low-risk reclamation project for Cleveland as Atlanta will continue to carry the bulk of the salary cap burden in 2022. His contract guarantees expire this season.
Jones started 16 games in each of the last three seasons, but was expected to compete for a reserve role in Atlanta this season prior to landing on injured reserve. He had offseason shoulder surgery in May and was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 1, less than two weeks from Atlanta’s season opener. He hasn’t played since. It’s not clear when he’ll be available to suit up for the Browns.