Even when you expect news, you still are a bit surprised when it happens. 49ers' defensive tackle D.J. Jones signed a three-year deal with the Denver Broncos Monday evening worth up to $30 million. In addition, Jones receives $20 million guaranteed, which means he gets a $6.5 million pay raise from last season.
At the NFL Combine, John Lynch said, “if his objective is to stay here, he made it really hard. I do think it’s going to be challenging,” about Jones. Now, that’s a reality.
The 49ers were fortunate last offseason thanks to the salary cap being lower due to COVID. That allowed the team to bring back multiple veterans such as Jones on one-year deals.
Jones stayed healthy in 2021, turned out to be one of if not the best interior run-stopping defensive lineman in the league, and is rewarded with a $20 million guarantee.
Based on Jones’ contract, he comes up just short of qualifying for a fourth-round comp pick next offseason — though I’m not sure if special teams' snaps count. If not, the 49ers are likely to receive a fifth-round pick since Jones played 51% of the snaps last year — which was a career-high.
In a day where San Francisco lost Laken Tomlinson and D.J. Jones, they turn to their early-round draft picks from the past two seasons. Aaron Banks figures to take the place of Laken Tomlinson.
Javon Kinlaw, who missed most of the 2021 season, is the likely replacement for Jones. Playing Kinlaw as the one-technique wouldn’t force the team to play him for extended snaps.
There’s a lot of hope involved regarding Kinlaw’s health and Banks’s development, but that’s where the 49ers roster stands as of today. Considering what both Tomlinson and Jones received in the market, the Niners were unlikely to retain either player.