Opinion: Why the Jones trade is good for the Arizona Cardinals
By Erich Becker
Why trading Jonathan Cooper and a Second-Round Pick wasn’t a high price for the Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals made a splash today in free agency, but not by signing a free agent, but by trading the New England Patriots for DE Chandler Jones to shore up a pass rush that was truly lacking last season and may have cost them a trip to the Super Bowl if you believe all the pundits. Honestly, they played like garbage on both sides of the ball in that game so you can’t place all the blame on the defense.
The Cardinals are showing they are much like their sports brother-from-another-mother in the Arizona Diamondbacks and have moved rightfully into the “win now” mentality. The Diamondbacks signed two top-tier pitchers in the offseason (one trade, one free agent) and the Cardinals look to be on the same page, how can they get back to where they were last season, and get over that hump and back into the Super Bowl nine years removed from their last trip.
Chandler Jones, even with a curious off-the-field issue last season, is a great addition to the team because he not only brings himself and his dynamic pass rush, but he also gives you back some of Calais Campbell back. Double-teams limited Campbell last season and his diminished numbers (and high salary) made many, like me, wonder if it was really worth it, and why doesn’t he restructure his deal to be more in line with her performance. It was nothing against Campbell at all, he’s a great guy, a great player, but he needed help, the Arizona Cardinals gave him that today.
Jones gives you a one-two-punch on your defense line, with a decent nose tackle in the fold stopping the run and getting to the QB will be easier than they were in previous seasons, even when the Cardinals were a top five team in that defensive category.
But here’s why I think this is the best for the team, they traded Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick, a steep price when you consider Cooper was a first round pick not that long ago and a 2nd round pick is very valuable in today’s NFL. The Patriots win because, without a first round pick, they’ll be looking to stock up on picks to trade (possibly back into the first round) or work their magic in the second. They also win because the Patriots are known for being able to move pieces all over the field and still be productive, look at the cast of characters Tom Brady had around him last season and tell me that wasn’t the biggest group of no-names you’ve seen in a while.
The Arizona Cardinals may end up winning this deal because, they’re the only team getting something known. As Vince Marrotta said on today’s Bickley and Marrotta on Arizona Sports 98.7FM, the Cardinals traded a question mark in potential with Cooper, a question mark in the draft for the 2nd round pick, and are getting a proven pass rusher with double digit sacks (granted, they were mostly in four games last season) but that kind of production wasn’t seen on this team aside from a guy who was signed after week six last year.
The Cardinals stand to possibly lose Alex Okafor (due to his carelessness) and are coming into their own with Markus Golden and Deone Bucannon in the linebacking core, that gives them an explosive front seven with maybe one to two other guys there, possibly Freeney coming back on a one year deal.
As we’ve been saying all along, a pass rush will take the heat off of the secondary, giving Patrick Peterson and company more opportunities to take advantage of quarterback mistakes, and provide the coverage that is needed. With a healthy Tyrann Mathieu, and a decent starter across from Peterson at cornerback, only safety remains a question on the defensive side of the ball.
Losing Cooper will hurt Keim’s reputation as a draft master, and not even he has been perfect, honestly, and losing and opportunity to make up that pick in the draft by trading the second rounder will hurt as well, but the draft isn’t here yet and other trades and deals could be made.
Honestly, it comes down to question marks, the Cardinals package they sent to the Patriots was big, but has caveats to it, and questions, the Cardinals get back a player with a good history of exceptional play, albeit in a contract year, but can work on a longer term deal with Jones throughout the season, or franchise him next year and get two years from the trade even if he leaves.
This wouldn’t and shouldn’t keep the Cardinals from drafting a pass rusher and secondary members in the draft, a defense heavy draft such as this one will have plenty of players to choose from, and as soon as we get to the fifth round, you know Keim will work that magic once again.