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Free Agent Spotlight: DL DaQuan Jones

Is Jones a fit —or a possibility— for the Bucs?

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans
DaQuan Jones has been a solid player during his time in Tennessee.
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Bucs are entering one of the more crucial offseasons in franchise history. As of Thursday, Over The Cap has the Bucs projected to have just a little over $13.4 million in cap room after accounting for player incentives and PPEs that were met during the 2020 season.

So, it may be suffice to say that there will be some new names on the team in 2021. If that ends up being the case, will DaQuan Jones be one of those names?

DaQuan Jones’ Career Thus Far

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Jones was drafted in the fourth round by the Titans back in 2014 and was the franchise’s longest-tenured player at the start of the 2020 season. The former Nittany Lion snagged a starting gig by his second season and never looked back. He’s made 93 starts over the course of seven seasons and hasn’t missed a game since 2017.

The 29-year-old has amassed 235 tackles, 9.0 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, 18 TFLs, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries with the Titans. There’s room to argue that 2020 may have been Jones’ best season yet. He set career-highs in combined tackles, solo tackles, and quarterback hits. He also tied career-highs in forced fumbles and TFLs while finishing with the second-most sacks in a single season.

The Titans handed Jones a three-year, $21 million contract extension back in 2018, so this will be his first go-around on the free agent market if the Titans don’t bring him back.

Why It Works

As James points out, the Bucs may lose Ndamukong Suh in free agency. While there are some attractive options in the draft —see Dayvion Nixon— there’s no guarantee they’ll be there by the time the Bucs make their pick.

So, the Bucs need someone on the front line who can stop the run effectively while also possessing the ability to get after the quarterback from time to time. Per Pro Football Focus, Jones hasn’t registered a below-average grade (anything lower than 60.0) when defending the run since his rookie year and he averages a pass rush grade of 61.1, which is slightly above average as well.

Jones can play all the interior positions and at 6-foot-4, 322-pounds, he would be a force on the line next to Vita Vea, who is 6-foot-4, 347-pounds.

But...

In William Gholston, the Bucs already have a player who fits Jones’ mold. Both players are run defenders first, but both can get after the quarterback on occasion. I think it’s safe to say Gholston has a lot more potential when it comes to getting after the quarterback, though. He finished 2020 in the top-10 of ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate (he finished top-10 in the Run Stop Win Rate, as well) and has 15.0 sacks in eight seasons. Per Pro Football Focus, Gholston had 47 total pressures compared to Jones’ 22 in 2020.

Gholston has also improved each year under Todd Bowles, which makes his $5.5 million salary in 2020 seem that much more affordable. Why would the Bucs sign a player like Jones to a decent amount of money whenever they already have a guy like Gholston on the roster? Jones’ asking price will also probably be pretty similar to Suh’s, so if there’s not that much more of a difference, why not just re-sign Suh? He is coming off a very, very good second year under Bowles and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Then there’s also the schematic fit. Jones is more of an inside guy, therefore, he’d be a better fit for the Bucs base defense, which isn’t on the field as often as their subpackages. The Bucs also have Vita Vea as their main nose tackle/interior defensive lineman. Adding Jones to the mix could alter how the Bucs run the defensive trenches.

What’s the Cost?

Jones definitely lived up to his second contract and played very well during the final year. Spotrac.com currently has his market value at $7.5 million annually, while overthecap.com values him at around $5.1 million. The latter number would be much more manageable for the Bucs if they decide to give Jones a try.

What We Don’t Know

Is how much the Titans want Jones to stick around and whether or not the Bucs will be able to bring Suh back. And as mentioned earlier, we aren’t entirely sure how Jones will fit in.

Make The Decision

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans USA TODAY Sports

So, what do you think? Does Jones fit in with the defense or is he too similar of a player to Gholston? Would he be a more effective option than Suh if Suh were to leave? Vote in the poll below and let us know what you think of the latest free agent spotlight player.

Poll

When It Comes To DaQuan Jones, What Would You Have The Buccaneers Do?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Sign Him, No Matter What
    (3 votes)
  • 17%
    Make An Offer, But Keep It Reasonable
    (40 votes)
  • 20%
    Invite Him For A Cup Of Coffee And See Where It Goes From There
    (47 votes)
  • 27%
    Call Him Up If They Need Him After The Draft
    (63 votes)
  • 34%
    Don’t Need Him
    (80 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now