Chandler Jones is well aware of why the Arizona Cardinals brought him in via a trade with the New England Patriots in March.
“I think Coach Arians and Mr. Keim, they knew what they were getting when they decided to trade for me,” he told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “I’m a pass rusher, and I’m labeled as a pass rusher.”
Jones, 26, has accumulated 36 sacks in four NFL seasons, including a career-high 12.5 last year.
“I never want to be labeled as a pass rusher,” he added. “As a defensive end, you want to be an all-around player. You want to be known to stop the run, set the edge, get the quarterback, get the pressures, get the hurries.
“But they brought me here to rush the passer, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m excited for that challenge, for sure.”
For all the things the Cardinals were good at last season, one area they struggled at was getting after the quarterback. Their 36 sacks tied them for 20th in the NFL, and their individual leader in that category, Dwight Freeney, tallied eight in just 11 games.
Following their NFC Championship Game loss to the Carolina Panthers, upgrading the pass rush was made priority No. 1, and it is believed the addition of Jones will help to that end.
Acquiring Jones cost the Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, which seems like a small price to pay for a player who is in his prime and made the Pro Bowl last season.
Jones, who has one year left on his contract, said he was not necessarily surprised the Patriots decided to trade him, but that does not mean he was expecting to be dealt.
There were rumors about him possibly being moved, but he said they never got to him.
“Being any kind of professional, you have to have a certain level of mental toughness,” he said. “A lot of times guys get caught up into what the media is saying or getting caught in the rumors.
“I did hear the rumors, but I didn’t harp on that. If it happens, it happens. I know the sport, I know the business. New England’s not really known for signing big contracts to defensive guys, or just whatever, however that works. I know the history and I just take it for what it is and I’m excited to be here in Arizona.”
The feeling is no doubt mutual, and if Jones is at least as productive for the Cardinals as he was for the Patriots, Arizona’s pass rush will receive a significant boost. Another big season would also mean a nice pay day for Jones as a free agent next offseason, though the Cardinals could in theory place the franchise tag on him.
However, Jones said there have been no talks of a contract extension just yet.
“I’m new here and my biggest thing is just trying to learn the playbook,” he said. “It would be great if I did have one, but my mentality is doing better the next year, trying to meet the guys and just jelling in.”
So far, so good.
The Cardinals are currently in the midst of OTAs, during which Jones has had a chance to get on the practice field with his new teammates and truly begin preparing for the 2016 season. In Arizona, it is shaping up to be a campaign in which the Super Bowl is not so much a hope but an expectation.
Having come from the Patriots — who fell to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game last season — Jones is used to that kind of atmosphere, and he said it has made the transition to the desert a little easier.
Also, he was well aware of what the Cardinals could do before he joined the team.
“I would watch would the NFC when we weren’t playing and the Cardinals, they’re always there; playoffs, last year they were one game away,” he said. “I’m a legit fan of the Cardinals.
“If you ask anyone of my Patriot teammates, we’re big Madden players, NFL Madden players on the Patriots, and I always chose the Cardinals, I always chose the Cardinals. Even when I first got here, I went to a few guys and was like, ‘hey, I always use you on Madden, I always use you,’ and they were kind of like, ‘wow, you know who I am.’ It was pretty cool.”