ARIZONA CARDINALS

Justin Jones is new to Arizona but not to many Cardinals teammates

May 21, 2024, 1:39 PM

Justin Jones of the Chicago Bears...

Justin Jones #93 of the Chicago Bears reacts after a sack during the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field on December 24, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

The decision to sign defensive tackle Justin Jones to a reported deal worth $30.1 million over three seasons serves to define the Arizona Cardinals’ offseason.

If 2023 marked a rebuilding year, the 2024 campaign was about turning over the roster to the bare bones and filling back in the gaps with reasonable, reliable players. A run of defensive line signings was about adding solid contributors. The volume of signings was as important as the value of the contracts.

But so too has been adding the right types of personalities to build a cultural identity. Jones was one of the first players to sign, but he had connections to Arizona already.

“The guys they have here, the guys they brought on — you guys know about Bilal (Nichols) — but playing with Budda (Baker) man, playing with (Kyzir) White,” was attractive to Jones, he told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Tuesday.

“I played with K-White, we got drafted together. That’s my dog. Same draft (2018) class with the Chargers. Playing with KT (Kyiris Tonga). I played with KT in Chicago. Being able to play with all these guys I already know and have a relationship with, it’s like you’re coming to a place you know you have family.”

Jones brings the most production of the new defensive linemen, piling up 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks from the interior last year. He racked up 18 tackles for loss in the past two years in Chicago after a four-year run to begin his career with the Chargers.

The 309-pound tackle is just 27 years old and appeared in 17 games each of the last two seasons.

His path is nearly identical to the also 27-year-old Nichols, who played his rookie contract out in four years with the Bears from 2018-21. Nichols then spen the past two years with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Nichols, a 314-pound interior lineman, also didn’t miss a regular season game in his last two seasons.

They project to give Arizona bulk in the front seven.

Jones, for what it’s worth, likes playing in even-front schemes as a 3-technique.

“I like putting my hand in the dirt. I like knowing that, hey, I’m responsible for that B-gap and I know that if I give up that ball that whoever is coming up to block me, I’m knocking him 5-10 yards (back),” Jones said. “I know that if this guard comes to reach me, I’m putting my helmet … I’m trying to dent his facemask. I’m coming with heavy hands, I’m trying to block him out, make a play in the backfield, TFL, I’m trying to make plays.”

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