In the mind of ESPN senior writer John Clayton, the Arizona Cardinals have two of the best 10 free agents on the market for 2017.
Clayton ranked the top 25 NFL free agents for ESPN Insider, putting Cards linebacker Chandler Jones and defensive end Calais Campbell on the list.
Jones, 27, ranked only behind Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short. Clayton included a guess at what each player on his list will earn in the market.
Projected contract: One year, $17,035,200 total (franchise tag)
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said it best. If the Cardinals can’t get a lucrative deal done with Jones, they will franchise-tag him. Pass-rushers as talented and productive as Jones are hard to find.
Jones was drafted with the 21st overall pick in 2012 by the New England Patriots. He played four years for the Pats before being traded to Arizona for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick. He had 49 combined tackles and 11 sacks in 16 games for the Cardinals last season.
A little farther down the list came Campbell, who ranked ninth. The 30-year-old defensive end has been with Arizona since being drafted 50th overall in 2008. He has 501 combined tackles, 56.5 sacks and 42 passes defensed in his career so far.
Projected contract: Three years, $31.5 million total
If the Cardinals franchise Chandler Jones, it will be hard for them to keep Campbell, who becomes the best 3-4 defensive end on the market. He has 56.5 career sacks and had a great season in 2016 (eight sacks, two forced fumbles).
The Cardinals may have a hard time keeping both defense stars, and both with be highly coveted by other teams around the NFL.
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