Chandler Jones sniffing career-best year, happy he signed Cardinals deal

Nov 27, 2017, 12:32 PM | Updated: 3:57 pm
Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars running back ...
Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It became official in March.

The Arizona Cardinals agreed to a five-year extension with linebacker Chandler Jones one year after the team acquired him in a trade with the New England Patriots. Not only did that cement his place in the Cardinals’ pass-rush of the future, it put to bed the chance that they could re-sign nine-year vet Calais Campbell.

“Unfortunately, we had to make some tough decisions,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said Monday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf show.

Campbell’s decision to leave on a four-year, $60 million deal is working out for him. He’s had a career year after receiving an offer he couldn’t refuse and the Cardinals couldn’t match.

But it’s working out just fine for the Cardinals and Jones, too.

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“I was so happy that I signed the deal here. I finally had a place I could call home,” Jones told The Blitz with B-Train and Jurecki. “Me and Steve Keim, we’ve been negotiating the contract since the day I stepped foot in Arizona. It wasn’t a lot of negotiation. We went back-and-forth like twice, maybe once.

“But I was excited to be here and I am excited to be here. This is a great place. This place has a great future and I’m excited to be a part of it. ”

One more sack recorded, and Jones will set a career mark for quarterback takedowns in a season. With five games left, he is tied at 12.0 with Minnesota’s Everson Griffen for the NFL lead.

Jones is coming off a season-high six tackles in his performance that helped Arizona beat Campbell and the Jaguars, 27-24, on Sunday. Five of those tackles were for loss, the most in the NFL for a single game over the past two seasons. Two came via sacks, and Jones also added a pass deflection.

“You don’t want to be labeled as just a pass-rusher. You don’t want to be labeled as just a run-stopper,” Jones said Monday. “Coming into this team, I was labeled as a pass-rusher. I think emphasizing the run-stop makes me more happy than the sacks.”

Jones is feeling comfortable playing outside linebacker for the second season with the Cardinals, and against the Jaguars, he felt like his film study led to his success as he read play-calls before the snap. Jones ranked second for the week among NFL edge defenders in run-stop percentage, per Pro Football Focus.

Physically, Jones feels like he’s in a good place by playing with less weight.

Jones entered camp at 260 pounds, the lightest he’s weighed to begin a season. He credited training with his brother, Jon Jones, a champion MMA fighter for helping him drop the extra pounds.

“He does three-a-days, not two-a-days. You’ll have swimming, boxing and Muay Thai. Or swimming, mountain climbing and cardio,” Jones said. “I went over there, I was a little pudgy. I’ll show you some film. Even my brother was kind of poking me. After maybe a week or two of three-a-days, I was probably 10 pounds down.

“I just feel like a lot of (the success this year) is a credit to my agility and cardio. The strength hasn’t left, but definitely the weight. It’s helped, for sure.”

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