JOE FANN

Fann: Analyzing Seahawks’ atypical splash signing of Dre’Mont Jones

Mar 14, 2023, 12:50 PM

Seattle Seahawks Dre'Mont Jones...

Denver's Dre'Mont Jones celebrates a sack against Houston on Sept. 18, 2022. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The Seahawks aren’t usually major players in the first wave of free agency. General manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have become known for standing idly by while other teams spend big money. That wasn’t the case Monday when Seattle reportedly agreed to a hefty three-year, $51 million contract with defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, with $40 million guaranteed.

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It marks Seattle’s largest investment in a single free agent in more than a decade.

At 6 foot 3 and 281 pounds, Jones is renowned for being an interior disruptor specializing as a pass rusher. Jones posted 6.5 sacks for the Broncos in 2022 with 47 total tackles, nine tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits in 13 games. Many viewed Jones as the top defensive lineman available among this year’s free agents aside from Javon Hargrave (who has reportedly left the Eagles for the 49ers).

“He’s athletic, and so he gives you a good inside pass rush,” Darren McKee of Denver Sports said Tuesday morning of Jones when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk to discuss the now former Broncos DT. “That’s definitely what he’s best at, so that’s the most exciting thing.”

The move will bolster a Seahawks front seven that was woeful in 2022, a big reason Seattle’s defense ranked 25th in scoring and 26th in yards allowed. Jones should also free up Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor off the edge.

What’s a bit confusing is that advanced metrics aren’t necessarily aligned on what caliber of player Jones is. According to ESPN’s Brady Henderson, Jones ranks eighth in pass rush win rate over the last two seasons when lined up on the interior. He ranked sixth in that metric in 2022.

However, Pro Football Focus is much more bearish on Jones. PFF gave Jones a full-season grade of just 51.8, a new career low. His pass rush grade was a solid albeit unspectacular 67.3, while his run defense grade was a poor 41.8.

That’s a notable valley between what ESPN and PFF would suggest Jones is worth, and McKee indicated that consistency was a big issue in Denver.

“I like Dre’Mont Jones a lot, but he’s not going to be the impact player that you think he should be for the money (the Seahawks) just spent,” McKee said. “But he’s solid. He’s incredibly solid.”

It’s worth noting that PFF gave Seattle’s signing of Jones an A-minus in terms of fit and need and a B-plus in regard to the value of the contract. That indicates even PFF believes Jones is better than what their own grading system would suggest.

“Seattle lands one of the top free agents on the market in Dre’Mont Jones, immediately adding juice up the middle,” the PFF staff wrote.

The good news for Seahawks fans is that Jones’ tape is littered with disruptive reps, and ESPN’s Matt Bowen ranked him 10th among this year’s top 100 free agents. Both Bowen and The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen called Jones an ascending player. At just 26 years old, there’s no reason why the already impressive Jones can’t evolve into one of the game’s best interior defensive linemen.

It has been a productive last week for Seattle, having also re-signed Geno Smith. The pair of moves has checked important boxes on the team’s to-do list and has given them great flexibility in the NFL Draft. Everything from taking a defensive lineman, to taking a quarterback, to trading down from the No. 5 overall pick remains on the table.

The Seahawks still have a notable list of roster needs at guard, center, linebacker and cornerback, and they could use at least one more defensive lineman. But adding Jones is a great start to the new league year for Seattle given his documented NFL success and projected ceiling that suggests he’s still yet to enter the height of his prime.

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