Bidwill: ‘Devil’s in the detail’ on Cardinals offering Chandler Jones contract
The Arizona Cardinals have a big decision to make when it comes to impending free agent linebacker and captain Chandler Jones.
Jones, who just wrapped up his sixth season in the desert, hits free agency after recording 10.5 sacks in 2021, second on the team behind fellow OLB Markus Golden’s 11. He paced the team in tackles for loss (12), forced fumbles (6) and QB hits (26).
And while replacing Jones’ pass-rushing ability could be a tall task, his projected contract numbers from Pro Football Focus of two years, $33.5 million could leave the team hamstrung when it comes to filling other positions of need, like cornerback and wide receiver.
Among the numerous questions Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta threw at Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill on Friday was that of the team’s stance on Jones.
“I can tell you we love Chandler and we would love to have him back,” Bidwill said. “The devil’s in the details, I’ll leave that up to (general manager Steve Keim) and Chandler’s representatives to work on.
“But we love Chandler and what he’s done for us in the past and hopefully in the future as well.”
The Cardinals’ franchise leader in sacks appeared to be following along with the interview, posting to Twitter minutes after Bidwill’s comments with nothing but laughing emojis.
— ♛Chandler Jones (@chanjones55) February 25, 2022
Jones’ 2021 started off white hot to the tune of five sacks in a Week 1 win over the Tennessee Titans. But from there, the linebacker mustered just 5.5 over his next 14 games played. The only time Jones posted at least two sacks in a game was in a win against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9.
Despite the sack lull, there would be an obvious need at the position if Jones were to head elsewhere. Although Jones’ sack numbers took a dip, he was still effective in pressuring the quarterback (47 total pressures in 2021) and freeing up the likes of Golden thanks to his presence in the trenches.
Golden, Devon Kennard and Victor Dimukeje are the lone OLBs locked up through at least 2022, meaning the Cardinals would need to add depth through the 2022 NFL Draft or look to free agency for Jones’ replacement.
Cardinals free agent OLB Dennis Gardeck could also be in the fold. While Gardeck is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the special teams captain could be an option that won’t break the bank for Arizona.