The Athletic’s intrepid Rams beat reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue, reported that in his season-ending press conference, Les Snead indicated that Ernest Jones was a candidate for a contract extension. Jones just completed his third season with the Rams and is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
Rookie extensions have been a rare thing in the Snead/McVay partnership. Letting go of formerly drafted players has been a hallmark of the Los Angeles Rams team-building ethos. Even players who were quality starters haven’t been offered the best contracts from the Rams post rookie deals. The most recent examples from the 2019 draft class are Taylor Rapp, Greg Gaines, and Nick Scott.
Ernest Jones’ Journey
He began his rookie season as Kenny Young‘s backup before moving into the starting role when Young was traded after Week 8. In 2022, the Rams brought in future hall of fame, Bobby Wagner in an ill-fated attempt to add more star power to the defense. Jones benefitted as a pupil of Wagner, but his snap count did not. Finally, in 2023 he took on the bulk of middle linebacking duties, playing 82 percent of defensive snaps.
2023 Made Jones Undeniable To Les Snead
2023 was Jones’ first true season as the unequivocal Rams middle linebacker and what a season it was. Jones the Rams single-season tackle record with 145 tackles. That was also the 11th most in the league. Even more impressive was his missed tackles, or lack thereof. He is credited with just two all season. That’s the best-missed tackle percentage in the league among snap-qualified players.
Jones proved to be a versatile defender this year as well. While the Rams were near the bottom of the league in pressures, Jones was the best middle linebacker in the NFL at getting to the quarterback. He led all linebackers with 37 pressures, 10 more than the next best.
In coverage, Jones was the 13th-best in allowed completion percentage and had four pass breakups this season.
On a very young and undeveloped defense, Jones shined the brightest of his young career. He will only improve as the Rams build around Aaron Donald and him. Les Snead and the Rams recognize his value, earning Jones a second contract.