Another one of the productive players that the Broncos got in the 2019 NFL is Dre’Mont Jones, who has been a regular contributor on the defensive line from the beginning, and a starter the past two seasons, a level he should be expected to at least meet for 2022. At only age 25, he’s the type of player that should be eyeing a bigger contract soon.
The two tiers of interior defensive line pay
The defensive interior has seen somewhat of a stratification at the top. Putting aside the unicorn that is Aaron Donald, the obvious regular Pro Bowlers come in at an APY range in the $16 million to $21 million range. Immediately below them are two much older stars in JJ Watt and Fletcher Cox at $14 million, and one player in DJ Reader that was able to straddle the top two tiers at $13.25 million APY.
After them comes a very consistent group of interior defensive linemen that aren’t Pro Bowl level talent but still deemed very effective starters. And what is notable about this tier is just how overwhelmingly consistent all of their contract structures are. They all come in at three years, in the $9 million to $10 million APY range, with roughly the first two years fully guaranteed. Among this players include two players the Broncos signed: DJ Jones, who just joined the team this offseason, and Shelby Harris, who departed as part of the trade for Russell Wilson.
As I see it, Dre’Mont Jones is very much in the “solid starter but not Pro Bowler” range, and thus his next contract should be easy to reflect as such.
A sample contract
italics – fully guaranteed salary
If this contract looks familiar, it is almost an exact duplication of the contract structure for DJ Jones. In new money, this is a three year, $33 million contract with $22 million fully guaranteed–a raise of $1 million APY over DJ Jones’s contract. Like with DJ Jones, the cash flow is linear: $11 million in new money over each year of the extension. Officially, Dre’Mont Jones would receive an $11.495 million signing bonus, but this would include some of his old money already on the books from his Proven Performance Escalator 2022 salary of $2.54 million. But the positive tradeoff for Dre’Mont Jones is that he would receive that money, old and new, immediately instead of over the course of the season. The Broncos also benefit by getting an extra year of signing bonus proration without having to resort to void years.
This is potentially one of the easier extensions at a shallow position
As I hoped I’ve demonstrated, there aren’t many extenuating circumstances with Jones: his play is pretty well known and the market is pretty well known. I don’t foresee either the Broncos or Jones being able to nudge the metrics much in either direction, unless either side wants to play out 2022 and see if facts on the field that season force a nudge. If both sides are content enough with betting on the status quo, this is a deal that could be had well before the start of the regular season.
I think it would also behoove the Broncos to get some more certainty within the defensive interior. DJ Jones is a lock to be on the roster for at least two more seasons, but beyond him there is not much at the position. Mike Purcell will be turning 31 this season and his contribution should be expected to start a decline. DeShawn Williams and McTelvin Agim have been good part time contributors but neither has proven to be on the starter level yet, and Williams will also be hitting unrestricted free agency at the same time. The Broncos spent two midround draft picks in 2022 on interior defensive linemen, but as such there’s much uncertainty if either will pan out.
This is a position that could get thin very quickly as the contracts are currently situated. Keeping up with the Joneses by securing Dre’Mont for a similar long term as DJ would set up a benchmark of certainty at the position.