The Denver Broncos’ 2022 season has gone about as miserably as one could’ve possibly imagined.

It’s difficult to picture a way for things to get much worse, unless the Broncos fail to bring back Dre’Mont Jones, a young star on their interior defensive line, who projects to be one of the 25 best free agents this offseason, per Pro Football Focus.

“Jones still has room to round out his game, but the value of an interior pass-rusher has never been more apparent than during the 2022 season, and that’s exactly where Jones wins,” Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger wrote. “Since he entered the league in 2019, Jones’ 130 quarterback pressures are tied for the 17th-most among interior defenders, with his 14.7% pass rush win rate 11th-best over the span.”

Not only that, but Jones has seemingly reached a new peak this season working in Ejiro Evero’s defensive scheme. Thanks to Evero, he’s facing way fewer double teams than he has in past seasons with the Denver Broncos, and he’s feasting as a result.

“Jones is on pace to set career highs in snaps played, pass-rush win rate, quarterback pressures and sacks this season,” Spielberger noted as well. “Players with his skill set don’t hit free agency too often, and teams looking for a 3-4 defensive end will be very interested in bringing him aboard this March.”

The fly in the ointment is that the relationship between Jones and the Denver Broncos has seemingly been icy, ever since the franchise decided to trade Bradley Chubb.

Just a few weeks ago, when asked about his future, Jones was extremely non-commital.

When asked if he wanted to sign with the team long-term, he simply retorted with, “I’m here now.”

“I view my standing with the franchise as, this is [Dre’Mont Jones] year four, that’s all I can say,” Jones said, at the time.

Now, considering the Broncos traded Chubb, in part, so that they could re-sign Jones, it seems very unlikely they let him walk, no matter how contentious things get. By way of the franchise tag, Denver can guarantee Jones will stay home for at least another season, and they’ll do so if it comes to it.