The New England Patriots have pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Cardinals. Chandler Jones has been traded to the Cardinals for former 7th overall pick guard Johnathan Cooper and a 2nd round draft pick. This trade makes a lot of sense for both sides.
On the Cardinals side, the Cards have been looking at adding an elite pass rusher through free agency, they targeted all the major defensive ends available this offseason, including Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, and Bruce Irvin. Unfortunately, they lost out on all three. The need was still there and they were able to fill this spot with Chandler Jones who has been a formidable pass rusher since he came into the league four years ago totaling 36 sacks, with his largest total coming in 2015 with 12.5 sacks.
Jones will be paired up with an already dangerous front four, including Calais Campbell and Frostee Rucker, who get a lot of penetration in the middle of the line. Jones adds the element of the outside pass rush that the Cardinals have lacked at times. The lack of the pass rush shined in the NFC Championship game where Cam Newton had his way with the Cardinals defense and they virtually had no pressure on Newton only getting to him one time.
Jones’ versatility will help the Cardinals immensely as he can line up in the 3 point stance or standing up and he can get penetration on the inside and outside of the line. A few concerns about Jones is that he did disappear at times during the 2015 season with 9.5 of his 12.5 sacks coming in the first 9 weeks of the NFL season. If Jones can maintain the consistency he showed in the first 9 weeks of 2015, he could bring the Cardinals to the next level in the NFC.
In the case of the New England Patriots, this trade could set them up for huge success next year and in the future. Johnathan Cooper being the huge question mark of this trade, who has lost his starting job at left and right guard in the last two seasons. Cooper has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. The upside, though, of Cooper is that he has Pro Bowl talent and the Patriots just brought back offensive line Coach Dante Scarnecchia who is widely regarded as one of the top positional coaches in the NFL. Scarnecchia has a great track record when it comes to coaching underperforming offensive linemen such as Cooper.
The most important part of the trade that New England received is the 2nd round draft pick, 61st overall in this year’s draft. As well all know, the Patriots do not have a first round pick due to the sanctions levied against the Patriots last summer during the Deflategate controversy. This pick gives the Patriots a huge amount of flexibility. If they fall in love with a player, this pick allows them to package it with other picks to move up and select that player. Also, with this year’s draft being so deep with front 7 talent, the Patriots can look to draft a replacement for Jones if they feel the need to do so.
For all the people that don’t believe in this trade and think we are going to miss Chandler Jones and that this deal is a mistake, I will spell it out for you. In reality, there was no way Jones was coming back to the Patriots when his contract expires at the end of this year. After the huge contracts given out to Bruce Irvin and Olivier Vernon, Jones was going to cost us too much and we were not going to resign him. This trade also freed up 5.41 million dollars in cap space that can be used on signing other free agents or give extensions to other players. As for other defensive ends in the Patriots organization, they still have Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard, both of which played significant time on the defensive line last year. The Patriots also have two sophomores in Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers, who showed promise in the small period they were on the field in 2015.
Is there a negative for the Patriots here? In my eyes, no. Overall, this is a rare trade in which there really is no downside for either team. The return for each team works and it improves both teams at a position they were lacking. We could easily see both of these teams representing their conference in the Super Bowl next February but, who knows?