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Steelers Decline Fifth-Year Option on Jarvis Jones

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue being unable to solve their pass rush problems, with news that the franchise has declined its fifth-year option on the contract of 2013 first-rounder, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones is the twelfth first round pick in that draft to enter 2017 as a free agent, solidifying one of the most underwhelming draft classes in recent memory.

Jones will play out the last year of his rookie contract in 2016, but the Steelers have decided he isn’t worth the $8.4 million he would have been set to earn the following season. Instead, Jones will test free agency, and likely field a number of offers significantly below that figure unless his production skyrockets this year.

The once-fearsome pass rusher from Georgia was considered a steal when he slid to 17th overall, and right into the hands of the waiting Steelers, in 2013. Since then, he has been good for only five sacks in three years, and has looked lacklustre in comparison to much more explosive and athletic first-round picks like Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree.

Under new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, Jones looked more comfortable in coverage and against the run. As the season wore on, he became more adept at setting the edge, and had his number called on just about every stop at or behind the line of scrimmage. In last season’s wild card game against the Bengals, he also forced a crucial fumble that helped the Steelers to their first playoff win in five years.

But in a scheme desperate to generate sacks without resorting exclusively to blitzes, Jones will have to get his sacks and pressures up to have any hope of being a Steeler in 2017.

In related news, fellow linebacker James Harrison announced he would be returning in 2016 for a shot at the franchise sack record and one last ring. Should Harrison and Jones both leave the team next year, expect the Steelers to target an OLB again early in the 2017 draft.

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