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ESPN’s Yates: Keeping Chandler Jones is Arizona’s biggest upcoming roster decision

Linebacker Chandler Jones goes through a drill during Cardinals OTAs. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals made headlines in March when they acquired Pro Bowl pass rusher Chandler Jones from the New England Patriots.

Jones, who posted 12.5 sacks last season and has amassed 36 in his four NFL seasons, is expected to give the team’s lackluster pass rush a significant jolt in 2016.

And at just 26 years old, Jones should still have many more productive years ahead of him.

But will they happen in Arizona?

Part of the reason the Patriots were willing to part with Jones in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick is that the linebacker is entering the final year of his contract and is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2016 season.

And that’s why ESPN’s Field Yates, in an Insider piece listing the biggest upcoming roster decision for every NFL team, has keeping Jones as Arizona’s.

The Cardinals struck a blockbuster trade with the Patriots in acquiring defensive end/outside linebacker Chandler Jonesto beef up a pass rush that lacked a proven young edge player. Jones enters the fifth year of his NFL career this season, which marks the conclusion of his rookie deal. This isn’t news to Arizona, and while making the deal was the most important step, ensuring that Jones sticks around is pivotal, as well.

Indeed, the Cardinals were well-aware of Jones’ impending free agent status, though when asked about a potential new deal all GM Steve Keim has said is that they will trust their system will make Jones comfortable while noting pass rushers of his age are not particularly easy to find.

For his part, while Jones said he wouldn’t mind signing his name to a long-term deal, it’s not something he is concerning himself with.

“I’m new here and my biggest thing is just trying to learn the playbook,” he told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM last week. “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.”

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