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The Cardinals Are Paying Chandler Jones Like a Superstar

It’s a massive deal, but the 27-year-old pass rusher is worth it

(AP Images)
(AP Images)

The Deal

The Cardinals reportedly signed Chandler Jones to a five-year, $83 million contract extension that includes $53 million in guarantees and averages $16.5 million per year.

The Appeal

Jones is a 6-foot-5, 247-pound force off the edge. He’s produced double-digit sacks in three of his five professional seasons, and he’s still just 27 years old. Simply put, Jones is a terror for opposing quarterbacks: Only Khalil Mack and Von Miller have more sacks over the past two seasons.

The Fit

Jones is Arizona’s best pure pass rusher on the edge, and when paired with Markus Golden, he gives the Cardinals the ability to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks from both sides of the line on nearly every passing down.

The Cardinals love to scheme up exotic blitzes and bring pressure from every conceivable angle, and Jones provides them with options. Since his combination of pure athleticism and pass-rushing savvy is so hard to stop, Arizona is also able to pressure the quarterback while just rushing its four linemen. Bruce Arians and Co. couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lock up that flexibility.

The Verdict

This long-term, big-money deal was always the goal for Arizona. The Cardinals acquired Jones from the Patriots last spring for a second-round pick (and guard Jonathan Cooper). After proving to be an excellent fit in the Cardinals’ enterprising scheme — he racked up 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, three passes defensed, and 66 total pressures in 2016 — Jones is as close to a no-brainer as you’re going to get. Sure, there are concerns that his numbers were inflated by playing a series of offensive-line-needy teams (five of his 11 sacks came against the Seahawks and Rams, neither of whom has a starting-caliber left tackle), but he was great in New England, too. Among 3–4 outside linebackers, Von Miller ($19.08 million per year) and Justin Houston ($16.83 million per year) outpace Jones in average annual value, and among 4–3 defensive ends, his deal comes in just under Olivier Vernon’s five-year, $85 million deal with the Giants from last spring. But with $53 million in reported guarantees, it’s a monster deal. In an increasingly pass-happy NFL, pass rushers are more valuable than ever, and young, reliable, and proven ones like Jones deserve a massive payday.