When you produce you get paid. When you don’t produce you don’t get paid. It’s a pretty simple concept when you think about it.
Ultimately that’s what it came down to for the Pittsburgh Steelers who declined to pick up the fifth-year option for outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Five total sacks in three seasons was not what the Steelers or the fan base expected when Jones was drafted out of Georgia in the first round.
The writing was pretty much on the wall for this decision as the Steelers selected Travis Feeney, an outside backer from Washington in the sixth round of this past weekend’s draft. Besides that, the team’s transformation to a more hybrid defense also helped to spell doom for Jones.
Jones could shock all of us and have a huge season in 2016 as he enters his free agent year and while that would be great for him I don’t think anyone is expecting it especially with where the defense is headed schematically.
If the recent draft didn’t tell you then let me; the Steelers are in a transition phase where they are going from a base 3-4 to four-man front. I believe it will ultimately become a base 4-3 but in the meantime you’ll continue to see hybrid looks. This evolution likely means less playing time for Jones who likely becomes more of a situational player.
Jones was far from the only former first round pick of the 2013 Draft to have his option declined. Tennessee did the same with guard Chance Warmack and Baltimore followed suit with safety Matt Elam. We all expect first round picks to be starters and superstars from the get-go but it’s ultimately a 50/50 proposition when you look at the overall numbers.
Were there better players available that the Steelers could have drafted rather than Jones in 2013? Darn right there were in fact four of the next five selections have made Pro Bowls. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say and the Steelers aren’t unique. Every team in the league has missed on first round picks but this one just seems to hurt a little more.
Will Jones be back in the black and gold in 2017? I highly doubt it but rest assured, this is the right move based on a simple lack of production.