The Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately decided this week not to pick up the fifth-year option on outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and with that decision comes the possibility he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2016 season. With that said, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert explained Tuesday in an interview with David Todd of 970 ESPN Radio the options the organization will have with Jones moving forward.
“We’re never going to close the door (on a contract extension) and actually by not extending the tender to get that option year, you leave yourself open to a lot more options,” said Colbert. “You’re not locked in, if he has a great year you can still franchise him. If you can’t sign him and he leaves, then you’ll get a compensatory pick. But all along we’re planning on Jarvis having a big year and proving he’s worth a new contract whether it be from us or from or somebody else, but we should benefit from his wanting to prove his worth and it’s not just a financial thing.
“It will be a challenge for him and it’s really done with no incentive, it’s just really you only have so many cap dollars to allot and you have to be judicious in making those kind of projections. And you run the risk of losing a player, but and again, it gives us more options to go in a lot of different directions. But ultimately, we’d love to see Jarvis put together a great year and make it a tough decision for us come March.”
Let me translate all of that for you. Colbert is basically saying that Jones has disappointed so far as a former first round draft pick and that’s why they chose not to pick up his fifth-year option. Additionally, while the Steelers are open to working out an extension with Jones prior to the start of 2016 season, they will only do so at a backup player rate. With that said, Colbert is telling us that he hopes Jones really uses the motivation of him now being in the final year of his contract to power himself to the best season of his career as the Steelers would benefit in several different ways on and off the field as a result.
While it certainly would be nice to see either Anthony Chickillo or this year’s draft pick, Travis Feeney, become the team’s future outside linebacker superstar opposite Bud Dupree, it’s hard envisioning either getting much playing time in 2016 should either wind up making the final 53-man roster.
When you consider that Jones, James Harrison and Arthur Moats are all likely now playing their final seasons in Pittsburgh, it’s hard not to imagine the Steelers drafting an edge-rusher in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
As for Jones, I certainly hope he has a career year in 2016 even though most of it is likely to be spent platooning with Harrison on the right side. Everybody wins the more he wins this upcoming season.