Jones had been sidelined throughout training camp as a result of offseason shoulder surgery. The procedure was deemed a relatively minor one, but it marked another chapter in the veteran’s uneasy relationship with the team. His contract – which has two years remaining on it, and carries a team-leading $20MM cap charge this season – represents the largest impediment to the team being able to trade him.
The former Pro Bowler is facing competition at the position in the form of Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker to regain his starting role. Jones has started all but two of his 85 career games in Atlanta, but downplayed the significance of returning farther down the depth chart than he has ever been.
“Every year, I come in and compete for my spot,” he said, via D. Orlando Lebetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Every year, we come in and we compete for our spots. So, I’m good with it. It is what it is.”
When asked about the persistent trade speculation which has surrounded him this offseason, Jones added, “I had no question about me being back here. I figured I was going to be back here. I was just getting my mindset ready and my body ready to come back… I’m not on social media during the offseason. But, yeah, if I would have known something, it was something serious, [head coach Arthur] Smith would have called me.”
The rebuilding Falcons also have second-round rookie Troy Anderson and free agent signing Nick Kwiatkoski rounding out the LB depth chart. Where Jones fits in amongst his teammates – and any developments on the trade front now that he is healthy – will be worth watching in the build-up to the season.