Trades are a relative rarity in the National Football League. Trades involving Pro Bowl players are even rarer. A trade involving arguably the best defensive player on a perennial Super Bowl contender being shipped out of town?
It just doesn't happen, folks.
Insider Buzz: Shanahan May Cede Control of Roster to GM; 2 Lead Candidates Emerge
Insider Buzz: Raiders Face Hurdles in Vegas Move; Owners Want Them in Oakland
New England Patriots Have NFL's Ultimate Postseason Home-Field Advantage
Can Home-Field Advantage Help Falcons Close Georgia Dome with NFC Championship?
Simms' Hidden Truth: NE Can Slow Creative PIT Defense with Only 2 WRs on Field
Simms' Hidden Truth: PIT Must Unleash Top Pass-Rushers on NE's Interior Linemen
Insider Buzz: 49ers Expected to Target Kirk Cousins If Shanahan Named Head Coach
Insider Buzz: Packers in Danger of Missing 3 WRs in NFC Championship Game
Simms' Hidden Truth: Seahawks' Simple, Predictable Defense Must Evolve in 2017
Simms' Hidden Truth: Meet Falcons' Secret Stars Crucial to Slowing Aaron Rodgers
Insider Buzz: Kaepernick Era Will End with 49ers; Does Not Fit Shanahan's Offense
Insider Buzz: Kyle Shanahan Expected to Be 49ers' Next HC; Will Pick GM
Expect High-Scoring Showdown in Packers vs. Falcons NFC Title Game
Insider Buzz: McDaniels Could Wait on DET or TEN Jobs to Open Next Offseason
'Fame Can Change Things’: The Story Behind Aaron Rodgers' Family Feud
How Bell, Brown Have Shattered Records on Steelers Historic Playoff Run
Week 19 Episode of Gridiron Heights
Insider Buzz: Colts' Future Unclear After Irsay Meeting with Gruden and Manning
Miller in 60: Shanahan's Brilliant Game Plan Makes ATL Super Bowl Contender
Redemption or Repeat? Breaking Down the 4 Rematches of NFL Divisional Round
Gary Kubiak's Abrupt Departure Suddenly Makes Sense
NFL Draft Live Insider Buzz: Jon Allen and Dalvin Cook Could Slide in NFL Draft
Simms' Hidden Truth: Seahawks Must Dominate in Trenches for Shot at Beating ATL
Insider Buzz: Chargers Will Play at StubHub Center, Moving to Inglewood in 2019
Insider Buzz: Chargers Value Mike Smith's Experience, Impressed in Interview
Insider Buzz: McVay Front-Runner for Rams but Age, Experience Concerns Remain
Expect a Blowout in Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots Playoff Game
Simms' Hidden Truth: Packers Must Go Big to Stop Zeke Elliott, Cowboys Run Game
Can Cowboys' Defense Slow Down Aaron Rodgers and Packers' Offense?
Insider Buzz: Marcel Dareus Got DL Coach Fired; Future with Bills Up in Air
Insider Buzz: Bills Set to Hire Panthers' DC Sean McDermott as Next Head Coach
Former NFL Star Warrick Dunn Built Deshaun Watson's Childhood Home
How Rodgers and Cobb Connected for the Biggest Play of NFL Wild Card Weekend
Insider Buzz: Packers' Eliot Wolf Could Replace GM Ted Thompson This Offseason
Insider Buzz: Broncos and 49ers Top Landing Spots for Kyle Shanahan
Gridiron Heights, Ep. 18: Giants and Justin Beiber Are on a Boat
Historic Offensive Performance Led Steelers to Victory
Insider Buzz: Chargers Focus HC Search on Defense, Plan to Keep Whisenhunt
Insider Buzz: Vance Joseph Has 'Leg Up' on Denver Coaching Search
Odell Beckham and Giants' Boat Crew Didn't Show Up to the Party vs. Packers
Simms in 60: Nothing Is More Frustrating Than Inconsistent NFL Playoff Referees
Miller in 60: Seattle a Super Bowl Contender When Rawls Channels Beast Mode
2016 NFL Sack Leaders
Week 17 NFL Receiving Leaders
Match Ups to Watch in AFC Playoffs
3 Broncos Named First-Team All-Pro
Match Ups to Watch in NFC Playoffs
Time to Skip the Packers/Giants
Insider Buzz: HC Candidates Concerned Over Jaguars Commitment to Bortles
Insider Buzz: McDaniels Could Trade for Garoppolo If He Lands Head Coaching Job
Chris Simms' NFL Playoff Quarterback Power Rankings
Which Current Playoff Superstars Will End Up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Simms' Hidden Truth: NYG Must Lose 'Big Nickel' Package, Feature DRC vs. Packers
Insider Buzz: Rodgers, Packers Will Test Giants Star Cornerbacks in Man Coverage
NFL Playoff Bracketology: Predicting Who Will Win Super Bowl LI
Insider Buzz: NFL Believes Raiders, Las Vegas Have Worked Out Acceptable Deal
Simms in 60: I'm Sorry for Disrespecting Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Simms' Hidden Truth: Oakland Raiders Better Starting Nate Allen Over Karl Joseph
Insider Buzz: McDaniels Is 49ers Top Target, Not a Lock to Accept Job If Offered
Insider Buzz: Bill O'Brien Could Be Fired If Texans Lose on Wild Card Weekend
Well, it happened Tuesday. In acquiring defensive end Chandler Jones from the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim demonstrated yet again why in three short years (and change) he's developed a reputation as one of the NFL's very best at what he does.
ESPN's Adam Schefter was among the first to report the deal that sent Jones to the desert.
In addition to guard Jonathan Cooper, the Patriots will also receive Arizona's second-round pick in the upcoming draft, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
#AZCardinals are trading with #Patriots for pass-rusher Chandler Jones for Jonathan Cooper & a 2nd, source confirms (ESPN on it 1st)3/15/2016, 6:54:25 PM
Now, before going any further, it's worth noting that Keim didn't rob the Patriots blind in this trade. New England gets a lineman who was once a top-10 pick as well as a Day 2 selection.
And as ESPN.com's Bill Barnwell tweeted, that's a better haul than the Patriots would have netted one year from now, when Jones will be on a collision course with a knee-buckler of a contract:
Bill Barnwell @billbarnwell
Patriots didn't think they could/should re-sign Chandler Jones at his pricetag next year. This is a better haul than third-round comp pick.3/15/2016, 6:59:24 PM
Let's put it this way. Malik Jackson just received $15 million per season from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The New York Giants made Olivier Vernon the richest defensive end in NFL history at the beginning of free agency.
Neither player has sniffed the sort of NFL success Jones has experienced in his four-year NFL career.
In Jones' second NFL season (2013), he piled up nearly 80 total tackles and added 11.5 sacks. Last year, Jones posted a career-high 12.5 sacks and forced four fumbles. Over the past two years, Jones has ranked as a top-20 option at Pro Football Focus both as a 4-3 end and at outside linebacker in the 3-4.
Of course, it isn't hard to see which number about the Pro Bowler most appealed to Keim:
Arizona sacks in 2015: 36 (fewest of playoff teams) Chandler Jones sacks: 12.5 (5th in NFL) https://t.co/HErnYcz4YW3/15/2016, 7:35:04 PM
As good as the Arizona defense has been the last couple of years, the pass rush has been erratic at best and nonexistent at worst. The team has turned to plucking castoffs such as John Abraham and Dwight Freeney off the scrap heap in an effort to get after the quarterback.
Both Abraham and Freeney had their moments, but in Jones, Keim and the Cardinals have acquired an elite pass-rusher just entering his prime. A player who could anchor their pass rush for years to come.
And as Jared Dubin of CBS Sports wrote, Jones' versatility no doubt appealed to an Arizona defense that has developed a reputation for throwing the kitchen sink at opponents:
With Tuesday's acquisition of Chandler Jones from the New England Patriots, the Cards finally have an in-his-prime outside rush complement to (Calais) Campbell's interior brilliance. It helps that the 26-year-old Jones' specialty is his versatility. Players that suit up for a Bill Belichick defense need to have that attribute, and Jones has it in spades. He lined up all over the place for the Pats: left, right and middle (he was probably around the right around three-quarters of the time, but he could still rush from anywhere Belichick and Matt Patricia lined him up); standing up or with his hand on the ground.
For his part, Calais Campbell seemed to be rather pleased with the day's events:
Calais Campbell @Campbell93
How I feel when I hear we just traded for @Chan95Jones https://t.co/CQlASStWLo3/15/2016, 7:45:28 PM
Is there risk involved? Absolutely. The Cardinals will face the same dilemma a year from now the Patriots would have—trying to clear enough space on the books for a megadeal.
There was also a bizarre incident (allegedly involving synthetic marijuana, according to the Boston Globe) back in January in which a shirtless Jones wandered into a Massachusetts police station asking for help.
As is usually the case with the tight-lipped Patriots, details of exactly what happened aren't readily available, although Jones admitted to Michael Whitmer of the Boston Globe that he screwed up:
Michael Whitmer @MichaelTWhitmer
Chandler Jones: "I made a really stupid mistake."1/14/2016, 7:54:39 PM
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported at the time, the alleged incident itself is grounds to land Jones in the first stage of the NFL's substance-abuse program. Any more missteps, and the Redbirds' prize acquisition will be a spectator for a good long while.
However, this is a case where the potential reward far outweighs the risk. The Cardinals spent most of last year as one of the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50. It's a team without many glaring needs. Pass-rush help was chief among them.
It's not a need any longer—or at least not a pressing one. That's because as Keim has done time and again since he took the reins back in 2013, he did what great general managers do. What separates them from good ones.
He managed to make a good team even better.
Gary Davenport is an NFL analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!