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ESPN’s Clayton: Cardinals-Patriots trade No. 3 move of offseason

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2015 file photo, New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones walks in the end zone before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

The Arizona Cardinals’ main focus entering the offseason was to find ways to put more pressure on the opposing quarterback. General manager Steve Keim hit a home run in acquiring New England Patriots’ Chandler Jones.

Keim swapped offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick for Jones last month, and ESPN analyst John Clayton thinks the deal could be a big win for both teams, ranking it as the third-best move of the offseason.

From the Patriots’ standpoint, they couldn’t afford to keep Jones, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, and sign them all to long-term deals. From the Cardinals’ standpoint, this was a no-brainer. They acquired Jones, an elite pass-rusher, for a second-round pick and Cooper, whose contract was expiring.

Jones has 36 career sacks, including two double-digit sack seasons in 2013 (11.5) and 2015 (12.5). The Cardinals as a team posted 36 sacks in 2015, good for 20th overall in the NFL.

Even though Arizona acquired Jones, the team may not be done addressing the pass rush.

Veteran Dwight Freeney, who led the team last season with eight sacks, has stated he would be open in rejoining the Cardinals for 2016.

Arizona also reportedly had a private meeting with Oklahoma State’s defensive lineman Emmanuel Ogbah.

The NFL Draft takes place April 28-30 in Chicago, and the Cardinals have the No. 29 pick.

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