NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) rushes during the second half at Raymond James Stadium.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, who is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract, is a candidate for a contract extension which would block him from becoming a free agent after the 2019 season.

Jones has been paying attention as the team placed the franchise tag on defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and has had a protracted negotiation with wide receiver Julio Jones.

After Jones, several other Falcons defenders will be up for contracts, including defensive end Vic Beasley, linebacker DeVondre Campbell and strong safety Keanu Neal. Some will leave in free agency.

Jones didn’t want to acknowledge that the window could be closing on this group of defenders.

“I don’t really think about that,” Jones said on Wednesday. “It’s just a matter of enjoying the time that we have together.”

Jones, who was taken in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2016 draft and went to the Pro Bowl in 2017, understands the business of football.

“The connection that we’ve made through ball,” Jones said. “Like I said, we really believe in the Brotherhood. The time that I’ve had with them has been great so far. I don’t want it to end, to tell you the truth.”

Here’s what else Jones, who’s coming back from a broken foot, had to say:

On getting some rest this offseason: “It’s just a matter of getting back into it. I came back early. Just taking some time to build up to where I left off after the surgery. Just feel like myself again.”

On the rehabbing: “It’s been good. Just finding out new stuff about the process of getting back from an injury. Just working hard, day-in and day-out to get back to where I needed to be.”

On the defense: “To tell you the truth, we are just getting back to it. We are starting off with a clean slate. Trying to forget (last season) pretty much and build on what we have now. Get back out there and be ready to go.”

On the speed: “The speed is still there. I feel good. It’s just a matter of getting back out there with my boys.”

On feeling like himself: “It was just a matter of me, there were still some things I didn’t get a chance to do with me coming back as soon as a I did. But I felt good on my feet. I’m working on traction and stuff like that. Other stuff that I usually would have the offseason to work on. I’m just building a different beast.”

On the potential for this defense: “We have a lot to prove coming back off injury. I would say there is a chip on our shoulder and we can’t wait to get back into it.”

On what they have to prove: “Coming off on injuries and stuff like is something that we have to prove to ourselves. We have to re-assure ourselves that we are still that top defense. We have to (move) forward.”

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