The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Jarvis Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft with the hopes that he would become their full-time starter at right outside linebacker. While he has managed to become their starter, he certainly isn’t a full-time player.
As the Steelers head into their Week 8 home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones, who has started all six of the games that he’s dressed for, has logged less defensive snaps (188) than the other three outside linebackers who play during games.
“You always want more snaps, or all of them if you can get them, but it’s a team game,” Jones said recently, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We each have a role to play right now. It’s helping us as a defense. I think coach [Joey] Porter, myself and the rest of the guys are doing a great job. You can’t make it about yourself. It’s going to take all of us to win. Everyone is playing well right now, and we’re just going to try to build on it.”
While Jones is seemingly playing a little better this season, he’s still not living up to the expectations the organization had for him when they selected him 17th overall a few years ago. In Pittsburgh, outside linebackers are supposed to get sacks and so far Jones only has four of them in the 27 games that he’s played in.
After the 2015 season ends, the Steelers have a big decision to make with Jones as they’ll need to decide whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option by the first part of May. While that option year amount has yet to be finalized, it’s easy to speculate that it will be north of $8 million for linebackers.
“That’s definitely my goal, for them to pick up my option, but I still have to produce,” Jones said Thursday afternoon, according to Fittipaldo. “I can’t worry about situations that are keeping me from doing what I have to do. I just have to take advantage of my opportunities when I’m out there.”
Even if the Steelers do pick up Jones’s option year, there’s still no guarantee the Georgia product sees that money in his bank account. While a fifth-year option, if picked up, is guaranteed for injury when it is exercised, that would only kick in if a player was unable to play the following season after getting hurt. In other words, the option year doesn’t becomes fully guaranteed until the first day of the league year in the fifth contract year. In Jones’s case, that would be March of 2017.
A few weeks ago, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said that until Jones puts together three good games in a row that he won’t consider him having turned the corner in his development. After he made that statement, Jones proceeded to sit out the game against the Arizona Cardinals with a hip injury.
In the loss this past Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs, Jones was involved in three tackles during the game and all three took place four or more yards past the line of scrimmage. While not credited with a quarterback hit in that game, Jones was able to register two hurries and a batted pass. One of his two missed tackles in the games really hurt the Steelers defense, however, and that’s what most of us will remember when it comes to his performance against the Chiefs.
Sunday, Jones will be going against Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth, who is one of the best in the league at that position. In other words, don’t expect Jones to get anywhere close to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on Sunday regardless of the amount of snaps he plays.