According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Marie Russini, the Pats will trade Pro Bowl defensive end Chandler Jones to the Cards in exchange for offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick.
Cards-Pats blockbuster from @diannaESPN and me: Cards trade G Jonathan Cooper + 2nd-rd pick to NE for DE Chandler Jones, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2016
This might sound like a crazy deal considering Jones recorded a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2015 and has been one of the most athletics forces on that defense since being drafted by New England in 2012. But Tom Brady now has a 2013 first-rounder protecting him and Jones has just one year remaining on his contract, meaning the Pats likely wouldn’t have re-signed him after next season (Bill Belichick never pays a penny more than he needs to).
Many will argue New England traded Jones due to his behavioral issues before the postseason, but I highly doubt that’s the case. Considering Jamie Collins, Jabaal Sheard and Malcolm Butler’s contracts are all set to expire after next season, Belichick probably wants to focus on keeping at least a couple of those defensive players. This deal has more to do with the 2017 Patriots than this upcoming season.
As for the Cardinals, that defense just received a tremendous upgrade. They certainly could have used Jones in the NFC title game against the Carolina Panthers. Arizona has been seeking a pass rusher for quite some time and now they have one of the league’s best.
It’s rare to see two high profile teams make a deal like this (both lost in the conference championship). Are the Patriots and Cardinals now favorites to meet in the Super Bowl? They will certainly be contenders.