A well-publicized offseason trade by the Arizona Cardinals dramatically improved their ability to sack opposing quarterbacks
The Arizona Cardinals had to have been surprised by their good fortune. It’s not often that a team is willing to trade away a stud pass rusher in his prime.
General manager Steve Keim managed to coax the New England Patriots into shipping sack master Chandler Jones to the desert. All it took was a first-round bust named Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to get it done. To say the trade worked out for the Cards is an understatement.
Jones was able to record 11 sacks, a double-digit total Arizona was counting on from the Pro Bowler when they acquired him. Besides that production, the effect Jones’ mere presence had on the rest of the defense is immeasurable.
Second-year edge rusher Markus Golden benefited the most. He had an astounding 12.5 sacks after posting just four during his rookie campaign.
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Besides Golden, defensive end Calais Campbell’s eight sacks were his most in three years. Inside linebacker Kevin Minter chipped in 3.5 quarterback take downs, the most he has had in his four seasons in the NFL. Jones’ domino effect on the group is clearly evident.
As a team, Arizona went from being tied for 20th in sacks last year, to first in 2016 (48). That’s an excellent leap in production. The only difference from last season was the insertion of Jones into the defense.
Another pass-rushing feat was accomplished in 2016. Golden and Jones became only the third tandem in organization history to both reach double-digit sacks for the season. Curtis Greer and Al “Bubba” Baker were the last duo to reach the mark, doing so during the1984 season.
Keim deserves major kudos for obtaining Jones, but the key now is to re-sign the free agent-to-be. Based on what premium pass-rushers are being paid these days, Jones won’t come cheap. One thing’s for certain, whatever money it will take to retain the veteran will be funds well spent.