Chandler Jones (DE)

Raiders, Chandler Jones Agree To Deal

The Raiders will land one of the top players on this year’s market. They have agreed to terms with Chandler Jones, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The sides agreed to a three-year deal worth $52.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding that the deal includes $34MM guaranteed.

This will reunite the former All-Pro with Josh McDaniels and Patrick Graham, who were both in New England during the first chapter of Jones’ career. After breaking through to the All-Pro level in Arizona, Jones will relocate to Las Vegas and join Maxx Crosby atop their edge-rushing stable.

For barely a minute, a Raiders reality with Crosby, Jones and Yannick Ngakoue existed. But the team is trading Ngakoue to the Colts. This will clear out some money for a Raiders squad that now has a Pro Bowl edge partnership. Jones bounced back after a biceps injury halted his 2020 season early; he registered 10.5 sacks in his sixth Cardinals season. Cards owner Michael Bidwill expressed a desire to re-sign Jones, who then tweeted laughing emojis after the owner’s comments. Unsurprisingly, the Cards were not closely connected with Jones during the legal tampering period.

Jones, 32, began the 2021 season as a disgruntled Cardinal, having requested a trade after voicing frustration about his contract. Several pass rushers had surpassed Jones’ 2017 extension — a $16.5MM-per-year pact — but he played out the deal. Jones is not exactly leaving the desert, with the Raiders now in Las Vegas, but his Cardinals chapter is over. He has agreed to similar terms with the Raiders. Jones appears to have missed his window to land a $20MM-plus-year-year accord, but he has still done quite well for himself during his prime.

The Raiders recently gave Crosby a $23.5MM-per-year extension. They are now fully loaded at the edge spot. Jones led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2017 — a year after the Patriots dealt him to Arizona — and posted a 19-sack slate in 2019. Making Pro Bowls with both the Pats and Cards, Jones will attempt to aid the Raiders in an AFC West suddenly flush with pass rushers. Jones, Khalil Mack and Randy Gregory are each with AFC West teams now, creating a division stacked at both quarterback and players paid to pursue QBs.

Broncos Expected To Pursue Pass Rushers, OL Help In Free Agency

Russell Wilson‘s impending Denver arrival positions the Broncos to be legitimate playoff contenders for the first time in six years, but the AFC West squad is expected to be active in free agency to fortify its roster around the Pro Bowl quarterback.

The Broncos are expected to target an elite pass rusher in free agency, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who also notes the team will pursue upgrades on its offensive line. Despite the Broncos taking on Wilson’s contract, they have more than $23MM in cap space. And they have been linked to reacquiring the best pass rusher in franchise history.

Von Miller has made social media overtures indicating interest in rejoining the Broncos, which would certainly make for an interesting development considering the team traded him for second- and third-round picks last year. An Aroldis Chapman-like scenario unfolding, in which the Broncos landed a strong midseason trade return and then re-signed the player, would stand to restock the team’s edge rush. Denver has Bradley Chubb‘s fifth-year option salary on its books but no other contracts of note at outside linebacker.

Miller has also been connected to staying in Los Angeles, and the Rams are confident their offer will convince Miller to stay. If the Broncos do not reacquire their all-time sack leader, La Canfora mentions Chandler Jones or Randy Gregory as options for the team. Jones, 32, is a year younger than Miller, and has been connected to the Broncos — among other teams — previously ahead of free agency. The Cardinals All-Pro bounced back after his injury-marred 2020, registering 10.5 sacks last season. Gregory will turn 30 this year, and his suspension history will certainly affect his market. But after delivering as a starter for the Cowboys last season, the former second-round pick will have a market.

Pro Football Focus ranked the Broncos’ O-line 19th last season. While four of the team’s five primary 2021 starters are under contract, only one (midseason sub Quinn Meinerz, who replaced an injured Graham Glasgow) was acquired during George Paton‘s GM stay. The Broncos are fairly committed to left tackle Garett Bolles, who signed an extension in 2020, and it would surprise if left guard Dalton Risner was not a starter in his contract year. The rest of Denver’s O-line, which again has a glaring right tackle void, should not be considered set. This year’s market is not particularly deep at right tackle, beyond injury-prone Trent Brown, so it will be interesting to see if Denver tries to fill that need on the market or with one of its three Day 2 draft choices.

Latest On Chandler Jones’ Market

While the Cardinals have a desire to keep him, Chandler Jones is expected to have plenty of suitors if he hits the open market. According to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, no fewer than six teams are interested in bringing in the veteran pass rusher. (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Cardinals Want To Re-Sign Chandler Jones]

Schultz lists the Seahawks, Broncos, Dolphins, Falcons, Bills and Eagles as teams at least eyeing the two-time All-Pro. At 32, age will surely be a consideration with regards to the length of any deal, but salary should not be an issue. Schultz reports that Jones “will command at least $15-18MM”. A general manager he spoke to on the matter described Jones as “a guy who keeps himself in great shape”. That, coupled with the scarcity of such accomplished edge rushers, should leave him with any number of offers.

Not surprisingly, he also adds that the former Super Bowl winner is seeking to join a contender. The aforementioned teams cover a wide range in terms of expectations for the upcoming season, and – just as importantly – are in drastically different salary cap situations. His 10.5 sacks in 2021 show that a medium-term investment could put teams over the top in terms of a Super Bowl run, or help accelerate a re-tooling process at the position for squads aiming to take a step forward.

When asked about hitting the market, Jones said, “it’s not about money at all. Where I am in my career, I’ve gotten contracts, I’ve gotten the Super Bowl, but I think scheme is huge. Or for me, winning more championships… I will say I want to go to a place that maximizes my talents”.

While Jones will need to compete with the likes of Von Miller and a very highly-regarded draft class in terms of other notable sack artists, he seemingly won’t have an issue cashing in sometime in the very near future.

Latest On FA Pass Rushers

In the estimation of Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), the quality and depth of this year’s collegiate class of pass rushers could negatively impact their professional counterparts seeking new contracts. Some of the most notable names in that latter category include the CardinalsChandler Jones and the RamsVon Miller.

Rapoport believes that Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill genuinely wants to retain Jones (as we heard last month), but the franchise tag value for the four-time Pro Bowler would be roughly $25MM, so that option is not feasible for the Cards. As such, Jones will hit the open market, and given that there has been something of a strained relationship between player and team for several years, he could be playing elsewhere in 2022.

Meanwhile, Rapoport expects the Rams to do everything they can to retain Miller, who is, like Jones, prepared to test the open market. Of course, the reigning Super Bowl champs also have new contracts for Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald on their radar, so GM Les Snead will have his work cut out for him when trying to re-up his prized trade acquisition.

A less heralded (but much younger) option for clubs in need of pass rush help could be Chargers OLB Uchenna Nwosu. As Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports, the Bolts and Nwosu have mutual interest in a new contract, but despite Nwosu’s desire to remain with his hometown team, the money will need to be right. Wilson suggests that the 25-year-old is targeting a contract with an average annual value between $10MM-$13MM, which would seem to be a fair price for an ascending player who put together a strong 2021 campaign — five sacks, eight TFL, 17 QB hits, and an interception — despite playing through a serious labrum injury.

The Colts, Packers, Bills, and Jets are all teams that could have interest in Nwosu, per Wilson. There is a good chance that Green Bay releases Za’Darius Smith, so Nwosu could serve as a Smith replacement in Wisconsin. In a separate piece, Wilson reports that the Jets, like the Chiefs, would be in on Smith should he indeed become a Packers cap casualty.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman is certainly monitoring both collegiate pass rushers as well as the free agent market. When discussing how he is prioritizing his team’s pass rush, Roseman recently said, “I’d be surprised if we didn’t do something there” (Twitter link via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com). Zach Berman and Bo Wulf of The Athletic (subscription required) believe there is a good chance Philadelphia grabs an edge rusher with at least one of its three first-round picks, especially since they expect Roseman to let DE Derek Barnett depart in free agency.

ESPN.com’s Jordan Reid, Matt Miller, and Todd McShay provide a detailed breakdown of the strong performance put on by the 2022 draft class of front seven players at this year’s scouting combine (subscription required).

Cardinals Want To Re-Sign Chandler Jones

Since Chandler Jones requested a trade ahead of last season, not much has emerged about his prospects of staying in Arizona on another new contract. He played out his previous deal and is now a month from testing the market for the first time.

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said Friday he “would love” to have Jones back. Of course, there are some complications. Jones’ age, the fact that he has been previously franchise-tagged and other teams’ potential willingness to outbid Arizona stand to affect Jones’ status with the team.

I can tell you we love Chandler and we would love to have him back,” Bidwill said during an appearance on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta (via ArizonaSports.com). “The devil’s in the details. I’ll leave that up to [GM] Steve [Keim] and Chandler’s representatives to work on. But we love Chandler and what he’s done for us in the past and hopefully in the future as well.”

Jones did not appear to take Bidwill’s comments at face value, firing off some laughing emojis on Twitter shortly after. Some bad blood has been in the mix here for a bit. The Cardinals refused to adjust Jones’ deal last year, and the talented outside linebacker skipped minicamp and requested a trade in response. Jones was back with the team for the regular season and forced six fumbles, the second-most he has has tallied in a season, en route to his fourth Pro Bowl.

The Cards tagged Jones in 2017, and the NFL’s tag formula would make re-tagging Jones a tough proposition for the team. Because Jones’ cap number came in at $20.2MM last season, his tag figure would be 120% of that — as opposed to the standard linebacker tag, which is set to come in around $18MM — and cost the Cards nearly $25MM. This puts the Cardinals to a difficult decision, given Jones’ impact.

Acquired from the Patriots via trade in 2016, Jones has thrived in the desert. Jones has three double-digit sack seasons, including a 10.5-sack slate in 2021, and two All-Pro nods as a Cardinal. The Cards’ hopes of a Jones-J.J. Watt tandem fizzled, after another major injury sidelined Watt for much of the season, but Watt remains under contract for next season. Jones will turn 31 this weekend and missed much of the 2020 season due to a biceps injury, further complicating matters for the Cards, who also have Zach Ertz, Christian Kirk, James Conner and Chase Edmonds set for free agency.

Arizona losing Jones would represent a major blow. The Cards let Haason Reddick walk after his breakthrough contract year and, talent notwithstanding, cannot count on Watt. The team’s other outside linebacker starter, Markus Golden, is under contract for one more season.

Cardinals Rule Out J.J. Watt For Week 8

The Packers will not be the only ones missing key personnel for Thursday night’s NFC showdown. The Cardinals will be without J.J. Watt. Arizona ruled out Watt with a shoulder injury. Watt did not practice this week.

Watt has thus far delivered on the big-ticket deal he signed to relocate to Arizona, helping the Cardinals to their first 7-0 start since 1974 and playing a central role in the team ranking in the top five in scoring and total defense. The 32-year-old defender has played inside and outside for the Cardinals, who signed him to a two-year, $28MM deal this offseason. Pro Football Focus ranks Watt as a top-10 interior D-lineman through seven games.

But injuries have certainly been an issue for the all-time great. Another one will sideline him for the Cards’ Week 8 tilt. Injuries in 2016 and ’17 interrupted Watt’s stratospheric pace, and although the three-time Defensive Player of the Year returned to an All-Pro level in 2018, the former Texans superstar missed a chunk of the 2019 season as well. From 2016-19, Watt missed 32 games. Thursday will be his first absence since that 2019 season, however.

Arizona will have Chandler Jones back after he spent the past two weeks on their reserve/COVID-19 list. The team activated Jones and defensive lineman Zach Allen from the virus list.

Green Bay will be down Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, with both landing on the team’s COVID list. The Packers could activate All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who returned to practice last week. Giving the veteran blocker an extra 10 days to come off the PUP list would make sense as well.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/25/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Claimed off waivers: QB Reid Sinnett (from Dolphins)
  • Waived: LS Rick Lovato

San Francisco 49ers

Cardinals, Chandler Jones Have Not Talked Extension Since July

In Week 1 of the 2021 season, Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones did everything in his power to prove to the world that he still has plenty of gas left in the thank. The 31-year-old battered the Titans’ O-line for a whopping five sacks and two forced fumbles, thereby announcing a full and triumphant return from a biceps tear that ended his 2020 campaign prematurely.

Of course, 2021 is the final year of Jones’ current contract, and Arizona’s apparent unwillingness to give him a new deal has been bothering him since at least the 2020 offseason. He skipped minicamp and even requested a trade this year in an effort to force the issue, but the Cardinals (understandably) did not want to grant his trade request. GM Steve Keim did indicate earlier this month that he would continue discussing the matter with Jones’ agent and that he would like Jones to finish his career in the desert.

However, it does not sound like Keim is willing to make anything close to the type of commitment that Jones wants. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Cardinals have only offered a one-year extension at this point, and that proposal included a $14MM base salary for 2022, plus $1.5MM in incentives. It included a meager $4.5MM in fully-guaranteed money, and given that Jones’ 2021 pay of $15.5MM is already a below-market rate, Jones was quick to reject the offer.

Jones’ agent, Ethan Lock, went on to say that the Cardinals’ proposal was made in July, and that there have been no talks since.

“The July 21 offer, the only one [the Cardinals] have made to date, was rejected without hesitation,” Lock said. “Since then, I have read that the parties are continuing to talk about an extension – that is incorrect. There have been no talks. None. In fact, the Cardinals have not engaged in any meaningful negotiations about extending Chandler during this entire period.”

Obviously, Jones is not going to post five sacks every game. But if he continues performing at close to his usual Pro Bowl level, Keim will have a tough decision to make, and he can expect plenty of phone calls from rival clubs as we get closer to the trade deadline.

Cardinals’ Chandler Jones Confirms Trade Request

Chandler Jones acknowledged his offseason trade request while chatting with reporters on Wednesday (Twitter link via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic). However, the Cardinals defensive end says that he’s keeping his mind off of any contract issues and letting his agent handle matters. 

Jones asked Arizona to deal him sometime in July. As it stands, the 31-year-old has one year and $15.5MM to go on his contract. He wants a new deal now — not in the spring — to cover the remainder of his prime and perhaps some post-prime seasons.

A short-term deal in the $20MM AAV neighborhood could make sense for both sides. At the same time, he doesn’t have a ton of leverage after losing much of 2020 to a biceps injury. In his five games, he registered eleven tackles, one sack, and seven QB hits. On the whole, he didn’t look like his usual self, even while healthy.

The Cardinals’ previous refusal to trade Jones signals a desire to stay the course with the three-time Pro Bowler. But, if talks do not progress in the coming weeks, he could be a potential trade candidate before the deadline.

Jones, winding down his five-year, $82.5MM deal, averaged 15 sacks per season across his first four years (2016-2019) in Arizona.

Cardinals, Chandler Jones To Discuss Deal

Just a couple of months ago, Chandler Jones was looking for a trade to take him out of Arizona. Now, Cardinals GM Steve Keim says he’s looking to keep the standout edge rusher beyond 2021. 

Well, he’s coming off the injury and obviously there’s no secret there, but I think that’s one of those things that we’ll continue to have one-on-one talks with him and his agent,” Keim said (via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic). “I don’t do those things publicly, but Chandler is a guy we love, he has the respect of the guys in the locker room, and he’s a guy I personally would like to see finish as a Cardinal. But you know how this business works. It’s not always that easy.

As it stands, Jones is set for one more year, a base salary of $15.5MM, and a cap figure of $20.2MM. Jones flirted with a holdout during minicamp in June and, in late July, he pushed the front office for a trade.

The Cardinals acquired Jones from the Patriots in 2016 and furnished him with a five-year, $82.5MM deal in 2017. During his first four seasons in Arizona, Jones didn’t miss a game while averaging 15 sacks per season. He appeared in the first five games of 2020, collecting 11 tackles, one sack, and seven QB hits. However, a torn bicep forced him to miss the rest of the season. That didn’t help his leverage, but the Cardinals would like to keep the 31-year-old — at the right price.