ESPN’s Fowler does not expect holdout from Cardinals LB Chandler Jones
Arizona Cardinals pass-rusher Chandler Jones reportedly requested a trade this offseason.
The news was first reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who joined Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Monday to discuss the team’s options as veterans report to training camp on Tuesday.
“I think it depends on what your forces are but if the forces keeping Chandler Jones in Arizona, I do think there’s a pretty good chance of that,” Fowler said.
Tuesday will feature the run test for the Cardinals before commencing practice for training camp on Wednesday.
Should the 31-year-old Jones not report to camp, it would show signs of the beginning of a potential holdout from two-time All-Pro.
However, Fowler doesn’t expect a holdout and says that the team is expecting Jones to show up, as he is “fired up” to get a chance to play with defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
“His focus from what I’ve been told is putting together a really good season,” Fowler said. “He was unhealthy last year and is fully healthy now and recovered and wants to get back to the 15- to 18-sack guy that most people now.
“I do think that’s the focus, that’s why I don’t expect a holdout. You never know if a guy is unhappy, he might decide not to show up at the last minute. But the Cardinals from what I’ve been told are expecting him.”
Fowler says the Cardinals will have to make a financial decision when it comes to extending Jones’ contract or not, especially at 31 years old and coming off of a torn bicep that ended his 2020 season in Week 5.
The three-time Pro Bowler has one year remaining on his deal that will pay him a $15.5 million base salary, with a cap hit of $20.8 million and a dead cap hit of $5.3 million.
Fowler pointed to the likes of 32-year-old Von Miller — who got his $17 million option picked up by the Denver Broncos — and 26-year-old Joey Bosa, who averages $27.5 million with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“That’s the problem the Cardinals face here,” he said. “It’s not that they don’t want to keep Chandler Jones on a bridge deal and have him maybe for three more years instead of one.
“But when you’re 31 years old you’ve had an injury, they don’t want to pay the going rate for premier guys. … For elite guys even in their 30s, you’re getting close to $20 million (a year average). Now elite guys in their 20s, you’re up to $25 million (a year average) and above.”
Fowler added that he thinks 26-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers pass-rusher T.J. Watt — the brother of J.J. Watt — won’t take anything less than an average of $28 million a year after his contract expires at the end of the 2021 season.
“It’s going to be top of market, highest-paid non-QB. I think it has to be that,” Fowler said. “So the number at that position is getting pretty outrageous.
“So if you’re the Cardinals, you have to weigh: Do you pay a guy like that $20 million a year no matter how good Chandler Jones has been when he’s coming off of an injury? It’s a tough call.”