The Los Angeles Rams found a steal when they selected Ernest Jones out of South Carolina in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He became an immediate contributor as a linebacker and played a key role in the team’s Super Bowl run that year.
Jones built on his solid rookie campaign with an even better 2022 season that saw him record 114 tackles and one interception in 17 games (11 starts).
The 24-year-old continued to improve in 2023 as he made 15 starts and broke James Laurinaitis’ franchise record for tackles in a season with 145. Jones was also named a team captain, along with Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and four other players.
Jones is entering the final year of his contract and could potentially become a free agent after the 2024 season. Rams general manager Les Snead said the team is interested in signing him to a long-term deal, per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic:
“Obviously he’s someone who is a very important part of that defense for many reasons, definitely the leader of the defense,” Snead said of the 2021 third-round draft pick. “In the past, obviously we’ve been invested in some other positions. But I think as we evolve, and as teams evolve, there are times where you may be less invested at a certain position than you were in the past and one of your better players is an inside linebacker. So, he’s definitely someone we’ll discuss and definitely someone we’d like to have around.”
As Snead noted, the Rams typically do not invest too much in the inside linebacker position. However, the team appears to be willing to make an exception with Jones, who has emerged as one of the leaders on defense in recent years.
Jones is due to earn a base salary of just under $1.2 million next season, making him one of the most underrated and valuable players in the league.
Rams hope to re-sign Kevin Dotson
Snead also said that the Rams want to re-sign Kevin Dotson after coming over from the Pittsburgh Steelers and shoring up the right guard position. “He’ll definitely have a marketplace, for sure,” Snead said. “People are going to want him to come play football for them. We’re one of those teams.”
Dotson earned an 85.2 grade from PFF this season and was particularly elite in run blocking, contributing to Kyren Williams’ breakout season.