ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Tony Jones, a starting tackle on two of the Denver Broncos‘ championship teams, has died, the team announced Friday. He was 54.
Jones, who started at right tackle in the Broncos’ win in Super Bowl XXXII and started at left tackle when the team won Super Bowl XXXIII the following year, played 13 seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Broncos after he entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 1988.
Known as “T-Bone” to his Broncos teammates, he spent the last four years of his career with the Broncos, retiring after he started 16 games in the 2000 season at age 34.
“We lost a great man,” former teammate Rod Smith posted on Twitter. “Just happened to be a hell of a ball playa. We love you and miss you Bone. One of the Broncos’ all time best tackles. Greatest dresser of ALL TIME!”
Ed McCaffrey, another former teammate on the Broncos, called Jones “a great teammate and a wonderful man,” and Hall of Famer Steve Atwater, who also played on those two Super Bowl teams, said Jones was “a great teammate” with “just the most beautiful kids.”
Atwater also said Friday night that many of the players on those Broncos teams have continued to stay in contact with one another and that “everybody is hurting in this.”
The Broncos, believing they were poised to rebound from a playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars to end the 1996 season, traded a second-round pick to the Ravens in 1997 to acquire Jones.
In Super Bowl XXXII, at right tackle, he held Hall of Famer Reggie White without a sack and to one tackle overall as the Broncos rushed for 179 yards and Hall of Famer Terrell Davis was named the game’s MVP.
After Gary Zimmerman, also a Hall of Famer, retired before the 1998 season, Jones moved to left tackle and started every game on the way to a Pro Bowl selection as the Broncos went on to win a second consecutive title.
Jones was named to the Broncos’ Top 100 team in 2019.
In a social media post, former Bengals tackle Willie Anderson called Jones “a great dad, friend, offensive tackle, trainer and coach.”
Detroit Lions, ex-Las Vegas Raiders WR Tyrell Williams reach deal, source says
Williams, who missed the entire 2020 season because of a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery, was released by the Las Vegas Raiders last month.
He signed a four-year, $44.4 million contract that included $22 million guaranteed with the Raiders as a free agent in 2019. All the guaranteed money has been paid out in his contract and the Raiders saved $11.6 million against their cap by releasing him.
Williams, who turned 29 in February, had 42 catches for 651 yards and six touchdowns for the Raiders in 2019. But plantar fasciitis in both feet slowed him and he missed two games.
He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Chargers and had 155 receptions for 2,530 yards and 17 touchdowns in 55 games. His best season came in 2016 when he had 69 receptions for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns.
New York Jets GM Joe Douglas open to Sam Darnold offers, downplays idea of trading for a star player
“I will answer the call if it’s made,” general manager Joe Douglas said Wednesday in a video conference with reporters, confirming previous reports that the Jets are willing to field inquiries.
The Jets are facing a major quarterback decision: Stay with Darnold, draft a replacement with the second overall pick or perhaps pursue Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson if he becomes available — a potential scenario that Douglas downplayed.
Douglas said he’s in no rush to make a quarterback decision, but there’s a pressing deadline with regard to safety Marcus Maye, a pending free agent whose agent lashed out at the Jets on Tuesday night on social media. The GM dismissed the criticism, saying the goal is to sign Maye to a long-term contract. Failing that, they could use the franchise tag by next Tuesday’s deadline.
The quarterback drama remains the headline, especially in light of Darnold’s struggles.
At the 2019 trading deadline, Douglas said he’d listen to offers on every player except a franchise quarterback – and he put Darnold in that category. Clearly, that position has changed. Since the end of the season, the organization has remained non-committal on Darnold.
“As it pertains to Sam, we think Sam is a dynamic player in this league with unbelievable talent,” Douglas said. “He really has a chance to hit his outstanding potential moving forward. (But) if calls are made, I will answer them.”
The Jets have received multiple calls from interested teams, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported previously. Their plan is to evaluate the top quarterbacks in the draft before making a decision on Darnold. The top candidate with the No. 2 pick is thought to be BYU’s Zach Wilson. Douglas said they’re gathering “as much information — good information — as we possibly can” on the available quarterbacks. Another option is sticking with Darnold and trading the second pick for a haul of draft picks.
The wild card is Watson. With two first-round picks in the upcoming draft, and two more in 2022, the Jets have the ammunition to pull off a trade of that caliber.
By rule, Douglas is prohibited from commenting directly on Watson, but he didn’t seem enthused about the prospect of trading significant draft capital for one player. That, of course, could be posturing.
“Obviously, we have a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different rabbit holes we can go down,” he said, responding to a general question about a potential blockbuster deal. “Not to get so much into a hypothetical question, but I just go back to (our philosophy).
“For us to get to where the great teams are, the most consistent teams are, you do that through the draft. It’s the most team-friendly market in sports. For us to be a team that’s consistently competing for Super Bowls, we have to hit on our draft picks.”
The Jets have a history of trading away top draft picks. They traded unhappy safety Jamal Adams last summer, and now Maye — his former sidekick — appears to be disenchanted with negotiations. Agent Erik Burkhardt tweeted the Jets “refuse to take care of their best player, captain and team-voted MVP.”
…Yet refuse to take care of their best player, Captain, & team-voted MVP in his prime who had several All-Pro votes…and who played out his entire rookie deal and even changed positions on his contract year (after they got rid of last yrs All-Pro safety). ✌🏼
— Erik Burkhardt (@ErikBurkhardt) March 3, 2021
Douglas brushed it off, indicating it’s part of the business and negotiations. He said they’ve had “productive conversations” with Maye’s agents, adding, “Our plan hasn’t changed. We’re in the process of working to have Marcus be here long term.”
Free agent Bud Dupree expects to be ready for an NFL training camp after tearing ACL in December
One of the top pass-rushers in free agency is getting healthier.
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who tore his ACL on Dec. 2 against the Baltimore Ravens, told ESPN he plans to be a full participant in an NFL training camp based on positive feedback from his doctors.
Dupree has been rehabbing diligently since the injury, and the Steelers have been pleased with his progress. Nearly two weeks ahead of when free agency begins on March 17, Dupree has kept in communication with the Steelers, who would like to bring Dupree back but have a $15.5 million salary-cap deficit. The expectation is they will at least stay involved with Dupree as free agency approaches, even if they can’t meet his market.
Dupree’s potential new team can determine how much they may want to limit him in camp, but his plan is to be fully available.
He played on a $15.8 million franchise tag in 2020, and a second tag would cost Pittsburgh $18.9 million.
Dupree had 8 sacks, 31 combined tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 15 quarterback hits last season before his injury.
He hit his stride with 11.5 sacks during the 2019 season, which marked his healthiest season since being taken by the Steelers out of Kentucky in the first round of the 2015 draft.
ESPN’s Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.
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