Why the Cardinals need to let Chandler Jones walk in 2022

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Chandler Jones
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Chandler Jones /

The Arizona Cardinals need to make a decision about the future of Chandler Jones. But with Jones on the wrong side of 30 and showing inconsistency, the team needs fresh legs. 

Chandler Jones has been a staple for the Arizona Cardinals since 2016. He’s been so good that he never went a single season with fewer than 10 sacks, sans 2020 when he missed 11 games with a torn biceps injury.

But Jones is going to come with a hefty price tag. Last year, the Cardinals were probably better off trading him while his value was still high. Obviously, they didn’t, and Jones was inconsistent after a slight contract dispute before the preseason. Yeah, five sacks in Week 1 was great. Except he spent the next 14 games logging just 5.5 sacks.

Jones also logged just 41 solo tackles, a career-low not counting 2020. To his defense, he still logged 26 quarterback hits, forced six fumbles, and recorded 12 tackles for loss. But overall, it was a down year for the four-time Pro Bowler.

Arizona Cardinals should have no trouble replacing Chandler Jones in 2022

There are younger, better, and cheaper options out there than Jones who can solidify the position for at least five years. Looking to free agency, names like Emmanuel Ogbah, Harold Landry, and yes, even Haason Reddick will all be available unless they re-sign with their respective teams.

The 2022 NFL Draft is also full of interesting prospects. Of course, the Cardinals could go in several directions here, but if they target an edge-rusher early, they can replace Jones at a cheaper price, and they can potentially get a decade’s worth of production.

While it’s farfetched to believe studs like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aiden Hutchinson, and George Karlaftis will be available unless the Cardinals pull off a major trade, solid talent rests behind them. Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II and David Ojabo both display prototypical size. Johnson ranked seventh in the nation with 12 sacks and Ojabo posted 11.

With such a deep class, the Cardinals could also snag blue-chip talent in the second round. And what’s not to say they don’t upgrade the position in both free agency and the draft? They could realistically sign a guy like Reddick, who performed well for the Carolina Panthers last season, and draft a solid edge rusher in the second round.

Pro Football Focus is currently projecting Reddick to earn a contract that pays him a yearly salary of around $11.67 million. PFF also has Jones’ projected yearly salary hovering around $16.75 million, so the Cardinals can realistically sign someone like Reddick for a bargain deal and also draft a solid pass rusher.

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