NFL Rumors: Chandler Jones Leaving New England Patriots For Arizona Cardinals

NFL rumors don’t generally swirl around the New England Patriots when it comes to trades. That’s why it catches people off guard whenever it does happen. Bill Belichick has shocked people once again by trading away one of his best players. The Patriots have a policy where they trade away players a year too early instead of a year too late. According to ESPN, Belichick has agreed to send top flight pass rusher Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick.

Chandler Jones is 26 years old, so he’s in the prime years of his NFL career. The New England Patriots spent a first-round draft pick back in 2012 to acquire the defensive end. Jones rewarded them by being a starter from day one. Last season, Chandler had 12.5 sacks, which makes him one of the elite pass rushers in the National Football League. The Patriots really valued Jones, so trading him away to the Arizona Cardinals was a very difficult thing for Bill Belichick to do.

New England Patriots guard Jonathan Cooper

The simple reason why the New England Patriots traded away Chandler Jones is because of salary cap concerns. Next season, several of their core players are set to become free agents. The Patriots know that it is not possible for them to keep everyone. That’s not how things work in the NFL. Out of all the players set to the market, Jones was probably going to be the one that was paid the most, so New England opted to let him make that money elsewhere in the National Football League.

Since the New England Patriots were involved in the scandal with deflated footballs, they were stripped of their first-round draft pick by the NFL. Getting a second-round draft pick from the Arizona Cardinals helps to alleviate that loss a little bit. Mississippi State Bulldogs star Chris Jones is expected to be available in the second round. He’s versatile enough to play defensive tackle and defensive end, and that might be appealing to Bill Belichick because he loves using hybrid defensive fronts.

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Chris Long

There’s also the possibility that the New England Patriots will use free agency to find a pass rusher. They gained some additional salary cap space when they swapped Chandler Jones for Jonathan Cooper. The Patriots have reportedly been in contact with former Los Angeles Rams defensive end Chris Long. The Jones trade explains why Long was a target because the team knew that they would be needing depth in the pass rushing department.

For years, the Arizona Cardinals have relied on blitzes to generate a pass rush. That affected their ability to defend wide receivers and tight ends because more manpower was needed up front. With Chandler Jones on the roster, they won’t need to do that as much. He’s capable of rushing the passer on his own. This was a move that Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians needed to make because his team can win now if they can find a way to catch up to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia

Jonathan Cooper was a top ten selection in the NFL Draft. With that comes a lot of pressure to produce. You’re expected to not just be a starter in the National Football League, you’re also expected to be a star. Cooper never became the mauling guard that the Cardinals had hoped he would be. Jonathan hasn’t been horrible. He just hasn’t lived up to the hype. There should be a lot less pressure with the New England Patriots, where he will be working with heavily respected offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

Chandler Jones becomes one of the rare NFL superstar that gets traded.

[Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]