Will Chandler Jones solve all of the Arizona Cardinals’ pass rushing problems? No.
However, will the 2015 Pro Bowler who tallied 12.5 sacks for the New England Patriots last season help a team that finished 20th in the league with 36 sacks, nine of which came in one game?
The answer to that question is the reason for why the Cardinals sent Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick to New England to land Jones.
“We all recognized what happened in the Super Bowl, in a pass rush and a strong defense wins championships,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “And what we sought out to do with our free agency period was try to address the pass rusher — and we didn’t know how that was going to happen until we got into free agency, started having some conversations.”
In the early days of free agency the Cardinals were linked to Jason Pierre-Paul and Bruce Irvin, while the names Mario Williams, Tamba Hali and William Hayes were all brought up in connection to the team.
Arizona “missed” out on all of them, however, which led them down a different path and to Jones.
Bidwill praised Steve Keim and his staff for “crafting a true win-win trade with the New England Patriots,” and most of the national reviews of the trade seem to agree in that being the case.
In Cooper, the Cardinals parted with their 2013 first-round pick (seventh overall) who has shown flashes of potential but has yet to become the player Arizona thought it was getting, and the pick they surrendered is No. 61 overall in this upcoming draft.
But in Jones, the Cardinals got a player who offenses will have to account for every time they drop back to pass.
“We couldn’t be more excited about Chandler being on our team,” Bidwill said. “A 26-year-old pass rusher who’s a Pro Bowler and he’s got a lot of upside. He will be a difference-maker in our defense and for our team.”
In 55 career games Jones has notched 36 sacks, and he is one of three players in the NFL with at least 200 tackles, 36 sacks and 10 forced fumbles since 2012. The other two? J.J. Watt and Ryan Kerrigan.
Just twice since 2004 has a Cardinal finished a season with a double-digit sack total, which is a feat Jones has accomplished in two of the last three seasons.
Last week Keim said if he had known a while ago there was actually an opportunity to land Jones he would have approached the idea earlier, and Bidwill, understanding the magnitude of acquiring a player of Jones’ caliber but also early on not being aware of his availability, said there were “a number of different irons in the fire over the last several weeks, some that came to fruition.”
“You try not to get too excited over some of the things that we thought might happen, that didn’t happen, and so I try to keep a pretty level head about it,” he said. “But as we started that process and the negotiating process with the Patriots, and it started to become clear that we’re pretty close to getting this deal done, that’s when I started getting really excited about what it could mean for the 2016 Cardinals and improving our chances to win the NFC Championship and then win the Super Bowl.”
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