2023 Free Agents Analysis: OLB Jamir Jones – Exclusive Rights

Player: Jamir Jones

Position: Outside Linebacker

Experience: 2 Years

Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights

2022 Salary Cap Hit: $825,000

2022 Season Breakdown:

You can never quite discount the possibility of a player boomeranging back to the Pittsburgh Steelers once they part ways. We’ve seen it too many times over the years, and it seems particularly susceptible at the outside linebacker position.

Jamir Jones is the latest edge rusher to loop back to Pittsburgh after initially getting his break there, first making the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent (though not a rookie) in 2021. He didn’t last long, but spent time on other rosters that year. When the Jacksonville Jaguars cut him loose at the end of August last year, Pittsburgh claimed him off waivers.

By that point, at least after the trade acquisition of Malik Reed days earlier, it seemed Hamilcar Rashed Jr. was the favorite to make the team. Delontae Scott and Ron’Dell Carter were also in the mix to a lesser extent—which should say a lot about what they were working with.

Pittsburgh carried him into the season and he immediately became a fixture on special teams, logging 251 such snaps in all 17 games played. He logged only 86 defensive snaps, and much of that came early on as a byproduct of T.J. Watt’s injury, but he also passed Reed on the depth chart as the third outside linebacker at the end of the season. And, again, that might say as much about the situation around Jones as it did about Jones himself.

Free Agency Outlook:

I went into detail in yesterday’s article about the Steelers’ other exclusive rights free agent, Christian Kuntz, exactly what that designation means, so I’m not going to take up that space with the same information. If you need to read that, you can just see what I wrote in that article here.

As far as Jones is concerned, though, it was a no-brainer for the Steelers to re-sign him as an exclusive rights free agent. It costs them all of $940,000, which is only a $50,000 difference from the minimum salary it could be displaced by.

Why is this, exactly? Well, they don’t have much in the way of depth at the position. I’m not anticipating that Reed will be back. Even if they added Quincy Roche, we’ve been down this road before with guys like Tuzar Skipper. There’s no reason to get excited about them just yet.

But the biggest reason that Jones being back is welcome news is because he became a core special teams player, logging over 250 snaps for the Steelers last season while playing in every game. And they claimed him off waivers at the start of September.

Even if he doesn’t develop into a rotational defender who you want to put on the field, he still has value, and at the moment he is guaranteed nothing. The entirety of the risk right now is a temporary displacement of $50,000 in cap space. The occupation of a roster spot during the offseason won’t even become a factor until after the draft.

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