The Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots completed a blockbuster trade March 15, as the Cardinals announced they sent guard Jonathan Cooper to New England in a trade involving defensive end Chandler Jones.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Dianna Marie Russini, the Pats will also receive a second-round draft pick from the Cards in the deal.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirmed the report of the landscape-changing deal between two of the NFL's top teams.
Shortly after news of the trade broke, Jones acknowledged it on Twitter:
#Birdgang what up??— Chandler Jones (@Chan95Jones) March 15, 2016
His brother—and Indianapolis Colts defensive end—Arthur Jones also chimed in and congratulated the 26-year-old on the move:
Per Schefter, both teams filled positions of need by executing the swap:
Arizona had been seeking a pass rusher - gets a stud in Chandler Jones. NE coveted Jonathan Cooper and picks. Get them.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2016
Jones is a top-flight pass-rusher who is coming off the first Pro Bowl season of his career, as the Syracuse product registered a personal-best 12.5 sacks to go along with 44 tackles in 2015.
On Wednesday, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians commented on what the deal does for his team, per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald:
I was shocked. (General manager) Steve Keim did an unbelievable job working with them and finding the right fit in the trade. We went into the offseason wanting to improve our pass rush. Free agency wasn't what we were looking at as far as dollars for certain guys. That cured us for a long time. They got something they needed. We got something we needed. I think it was a great trade for both sides.
According to Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus, few players in the league were as disruptive to opposing signal-callers as Jones was last season:
Chandler Jones had 57 pressures when rushing from the defenses right side; 4th best for 4-3 DEs/3-4 OLBs— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) March 15, 2016
He was set to enter the final year of his contract, however, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald pointed out that New England was unlikely to pay the huge salary it would have taken to retain him:
Patriots weren't paying $90M to Chandler Jones in 2017. Got something now.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 15, 2016
Per ESPN's Field Yates, the Patriots also cleared a significant amount of cap room for 2016 by shipping Jones out West:
For the Patriots, this trade clears $5,410,045 in cap space for 2016. The team now has 11 picks in the 2016 draft.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 15, 2016
According to Rapoport, Jones had been on New England's trading block recently, and Cooper became expendable in Arizona:
#Patriots were open to trading Chandler Jones for some time. Cardinals had moved Cooper, ex-1st round pick, to center. Makes sense for both— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 15, 2016
Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 laid out Arizona's salary-cap situation after swapping Cooper for Jones:
Update' By the Cardinals trading Jonathan Cooper, they'll save $2.38M, and will have $2.24M counting in dead money against the 2016 cap.— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) March 15, 2016
Per Pro Football Talk, the 26-year-old Cooper's contract situation will remain unchanged upon his arrival in New England:
Jonathan Cooper, per multiple sources, did not re-do his contract when traded to New England. He's subject to 2017 option at $11M.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 15, 2016
Jones' tenure with the Patriots included some controversy near its conclusion, as a reported bad reaction to synthetic marijuana landed him in the hospital shortly before a playoff game.
As for Cooper, the 2013 No. 7 overall pick never gained his footing after missing his entire rookie season because of an injury. He started just two games in 2014 and started nine in 2015, and plans were in place for him to move from guard to center for the 2016 campaign, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport (via NFL.com's Conor Orr).
The Patriots desperately needed help along the offensive line after the unit was decimated in an AFC Championship Game loss to the Denver Broncos.
Arizona ranked just 20th in the NFL in sacks last season, but the addition of Jones instantly makes an already-talented defense even more dangerous.
The Pats and Cards are among the top teams vying for a championship next season, and while they both gave up quality pieces, they filled needs.
New England is gambling on Cooper reaching his immense potential, while Arizona is banking on its ability to potentially re-sign Jones to a long-term contract.
Some deals work out well for both teams involved, and if Cooper and Jones play to their capabilities, then each squad improved on Tuesday.
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