Cardinals’ Campbell: Chandler Jones is a game-changer, playmaker

Mar 16, 2016, 11:49 AM | Updated: 12:46 pm
FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2014, file photo, New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) jo...
FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2014, file photo, New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) jokes on the sidelines in the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers in Foxborough, Mass. Brothers Chandler and Arthur Jones willl be on opposing defenses in the AFC title game. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
LISTEN: Calais Campbell - Arizona Cardinals DE

Calais Campbell made no secret of how pleased he was over the Arizona Cardinals’ acquisition of Chandler Jones Tuesday, and he let his feelings be known via a couple of tweets.

“Oh man, initial excitement right away,” Campbell told Off the Edge with B-Train on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday of his initial reaction. “I know what Chandler Jones can do; I’ve studied a lot of film on a lot of different great players in this game, and he’s one of them that I’ve always admired.

“Just his relentless effort and his ability to rush the passer — he’s a game-changer, he’s a playmaker. He’s more than a pass-rusher, he’s just a great football player.”

The 26-year-old Jones was fifth in the NFL last season with 12.5 sacks, and he is one of three players in the NFL with at least 200 tackles, 36 sacks and 10 forced fumbles since 2012. In 55 career games, the former first-round pick out of Syracuse has notched 36 sacks.

The move was made because the Cardinals struggled getting after the quarterback last season. Their leader in sacks was Dwight Freeney, who picked up eight in just 11 games.

A 36-year-old free agent, there is no guarantee Freeney will return to the team in 2016, and even if he does, the Cardinals still wanted to make other moves to upgrade their pass rush.

And in trading for Jones they have done exactly that.

The move to land Jones to upgrade the pass rush and the free agency signing of safety Tyvon Branch last week were both done in an effort to improve a defense that was already pretty good. A captain, Campbell said the team bringing in that kind of talent adds to his motivation.

“I think we have a short window where we have a real opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, so football is a team game and the more playmakers you can get on one team, the more opportunity you’ll have to win it,” he said. “So bringing in guys like Branch and Jones, they add a playmaker mentality to the defense that we already have — we were ballhawks, we got a lot of turnovers last year, but I think with these two guys on the field, I think we’ll be able to make a lot more plays going forward.”

A two-time Pro Bowl selection who has been with the Cardinals since 2008, Campbell said the additions show just how much the front office wants to win. Especially over the last three years, he said, their decisions have led to positive results.

“I know that they want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, they want to win a championship, so they’re making every move,” he said. “They’re up there in the lab just calculating and running numbers and figuring out the best moves so we can win today.

“I know it’s kind of the mentality, Super Bowl or bust, but the front office, they’ve really set that precedent, going forward every game is a Super Bowl game, a championship game.”

Of course, talent like the Cardinals have added does not come cheap. Jones will make $7.79 million this season in the last year of his rookie contract, and Branch signed a two-year deal that could be worth up to $10.75 million with incentives.

The 29-year-old Campbell is also making good money, and he is set to count $15.25 million against the 2016 salary cap. It is the final season of a contract extension he signed in 2012, and there has been talk about the team possibly approaching him about restructuring the deal in an effort to give the team a bit more flexibility.

Campbell, though, said that has not happened yet.

“It’s always very interesting when it comes to the business side of football,” he said. “I’m actually in the process of trying to solidify who my agent is going to be going forward. I’ve took meetings and I’m sitting here ready to make the decision, been contemplating and praying on it, and once I make that decision we’ll see what happens going forward.

“But the last couple weeks I haven’t been able to do much because I haven’t had an agent, but now that I’m getting that settled hopefully, I don’t know what the plan is upstairs, but once that situation is handled and I have an agent, we’ll see what happens going forward.”

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