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Cardinals GM Keim: Hopefully we can get a long-term deal done with Chandler Jones

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals general manager

When the Cardinals traded for Patriots pass rusher Chandler Jones last March, talk of the deal centered around how the team had acquired a premier talent, albeit one who was set to become a free agent after the season.

At the time, the Cardinals maintained that they had every intention of keeping Jones around long-term, and Jones himself seemed open to the idea of sticking around for a while.

Nine games into Jones’ Cardinals tenure, nothing has changed.

Jones’ seven sacks lead the Cardinals and have him tied for eighth in the NFL, and on Sunday, FOX’s Jay Glazer reported the team and player have been in discussions for a contract extension.

A guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday morning, Cardinals GM Steve Keim had nothing but praise for Jones, who tallied two sacks in Sunday’s 23-20 win over the 49ers.

“I would say this about him, and without getting into the dialogue of the negotiations, but you know, when you make a trade for a player that you don’t know well personally, you’re not sure how it’s going to go,” Keim said. “Although you see what you see on tape, he has been a great teammate, he’s been fantastic in the locker room, he works extremely hard on and off the field.

“So, just when I look at the person and the player, he’s been a great fit for us and hopefully we can get something ironed out long-term.”

A 2012 first-round pick of the Patriots, the 26-year-old Jones has amassed 43 sacks in 64 career games, while also forcing 12 fumbles. Players of his skill set and age do not come cheap, and just last offseason less accomplished pass rushers like Bruce Irvin (4 years, $37 million, Raiders) and Olivier Vernon (5 years, $85 million, Giants) cashed in as free agents.

Jones, who is making roughly $7.8 million in the last season of his rookie contract, figures to command a higher salary than that. Should the Cardinals be unable to come to an agreement with him, the option of using the franchise tag — which would pay him a salary that is the average of the top five highest paid players at his position for on year — would be there.

“That’s always an option, but that’s not the reason we made the trade,” Keim said. “We made the trade with the mindset that the guy is going to have success, which he has, and that he could potentially be a fixture here long-term.

“So hopefully, again, we’ll get something ironed out, but I’ve been doing this long enough now where I understand how negotiations go, so you can never tell.”

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