Arizona Cardinals Choose Potential over Production with Jarvis Jones

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

In signing Jarvis Jones, the Arizona Cardinals have chosen to see what could be, instead of what has been

Through four seasons, Jarvis Jones’ career hasn’t been what he envisioned after he was selected 17th overall in the NFL Draft. Expected to help reestablish the Pittsburgh Steelers pass rush, he stepped into a big role immediately. Unfortunately, things didn’t play out that way.

Jones ended the 2016 season with one sack, which gave him a total of six for his career. The Steelers, still looking for that elusive game-changing pass rusher, decided to end his time with the team, and Jones entered free agency. He was signed by the Cardinals on a one-year contract this off-season.

The embattled Jones comes in on the heels of former Cardinal Alex Okafor leaving for the New Orleans Saints. Okafor, himself a rotational player who backed up Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. He had eight sacks in 2014, but his production dipped in 2015. This was followed by a mysterious toe injury that kept him out of the playoffs, and may have left a bad impression on fans and team management.

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Jones will step in, without the pressures he faced in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals have their starters in place, so he won’t be relied on to “save” the defense. He will be allowed to be a situational player, put into positions to succeed. He’s a good run defender, and is still young enough to have potential as a pass rusher.

In an off-season where the salary cap has been an issue for the Cardinals, signing Jones makes some sense. Coming off of a disappointing start to his career, he was available at an affordable price. He was also giving just a one-year deal, enabling the team to cut bait if he doesn’t improve, and allows Jones to cash in if he has a good year.

The Cardinals will be hoping that Jones finally puts things together in 2017. He won’t be expected to have big sack numbers, or become a starter. They need him to provide depth, and make plays when called upon. They’re wagering that he can still be a good player. As for Jones, he’s betting on himself. If he comes close to reaching his potential, agreeing to a one-year contract will pay off.