Art Jones on “Very, Very Shaky Ground” with Colts, but Imminent Release Unlikely
According to the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder, Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones is on “very, very shaky ground” with the organization following a 4-game suspension issued by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances:
Rightfully so too, as Jones has missed 23 games over the past two seasons with the Colts–only appearing in 9 games after initially inking a 5-year, $33M deal during the 2014 offseason.
The former Baltimore Ravens run-stopping standout simply hasn’t made much of an impact in Indianapolis because he hasn’t seen the field enough.
There’s no question that at a massive 6’3″, 320 pounds and blessed with quick feet, Jones could actually be a difference-maker for the Colts defensive line as a run-stuffer.
However, Jones latest incident–only this time self-inflicted, will once again keep him off the field for the Colts. While Jones hasn’t issued a public statement, at first glance, it appears like a rather selfish move from a player that is looking to more readily recover from his ankle injuries.
While Jones reworked his lucrative deal earlier this offseason–lowering his 2016 cap hit to just $3.6M for 2016, cutting him now doesn’t really make sense for the Colts. Specifically, the team would save roughly $1.5M this season, which isn’t enough to bring in an impact free agent with the potential savings regardless.
Instead, Jones chopping block date will likely come next offseason, when his cap hit for 2017 spikes to $7.35M, and the Colts would save $5.15M by releasing him–much more meaningful cap savings all things considered.
Short-term, the Colts would be better off riding with Jones and seeing if he can at least be a situational run-stuffer along the defensive line following his 4-game suspension to start the season.
The good news is that a suspended Jones does not count against the Colts active 53-man roster, so the team won’t have to worry about creating Jones a roster spot until his expected return in Week 5.
Nevertheless, it’s still a major blow to the Colts defensive line depth, especially with fellow teammate Henry Anderson still rehabilitating from a season-ending torn ACL and remaining a realistic candidate to begin the season on PUP.
It likely means that this year’s promising 4th round pick Hassan Ridgeway will be thrown into the fire earlier than expected–perhaps as a starter from the get-go, while rotational defensive lineman such as Zach Kerr and T.Y. McGill also figure to assume larger roles.
Jones’ suspension should also help a would-be bubble player along the defensive line such as Ricky Lumpkin, Kelcy Quarles, or Delvon Simmons make the early season active 53-man roster.
It doesn’t break the Colts by any means because the team has had to play without Jones in the past regardless, but it does limit their depth while putting enormous pressure on their younger defensive lineman to make immediate contributions.
The Colts haven’t even started the preseason, and it’s already, “Next man up!”