Cardinals Free Agent Preview: Chandler Jones

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Chandler Jones was a huge addition to the Cardinals, but is a free agent now

After the 2015 season, the Arizona Cardinals were looking to improve their pass rush. They anticipated being a Super Bowl contender, and finishing 20th in the league in sacks again wasn’t going to cut it. A trade was worked out with the New England Patriots, sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second round pick for Chandler Jones, who had just finished fifth in the NFL in sacks.

Jones made an immediate impact, recording a sack in each of his first four games, and totaling 11 on the year. He also forced four fumbles, had two fumble recoveries, and was credited with three passes defended. His 15 tackles for a loss were also among the league leaders.

Having played out his previous contract, Jones has earned a big raise going into 2017. He was paid just under $8 million last season, but will likely seek close to twice that amount going forward. Other top pass rushers, have gotten mega-deals recently, including Justin Houston (over $16 million per year) and Olivier Vernon ($17 million per year).

Jones will be just 27 years old entering the 2017 season, and should be a top pass rusher for several more years. The Cardinals would love to continue to pair him with Markus Golden to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. With Jones on board, the Cardinals jumped to first in the league in sacks, with 48.

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The Cardinals could choose to use the franchise tag on Jones, if they can’t work out a long-term deal. That would pay him north of $15 million for one season, giving them more time to work out a contract. They goal would be to get him signed through his prime years, though.

Head Coach Bruce Arians has said that he wants Jones back in Arizona in 2017, so it seems certain he’ll be a Cardinal. The team has a lot of free agents, but getting Jones squared away should be priority number one, so they know how much cap room they have to work with. The Cardinals will try to make, perhaps, one last run at a Super Bowl with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. Having Chandler Jones only helps in that pursuit.