Trading Chandler Jones was a move Bill Belichick had to make. The fact that he got a second round pick and an offensive lineman for Jones is a bonus.
Jones was going into the last year of his deal. He would have been an unrestricted free agent after the 2016 season. Belichick saw what pass rushers were getting in free agency. Oliver Vernon, a player comparable to Jones, received a 5-year, $85 million deal with the New York Giants, $52.5 million guaranteed.
There was no way Belichick was going to give Jones a contract like that especially when Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler, and Jabaal Sheard will also be free agents after the 2016 season.
Those four players are better and worth more to the Patriots than Jones was.
Chandler Jones was a good player, not a great player. He had 36 sacks in his four years in New England, but those numbers are deceiving. When the weather turns cold during what Belichick calls the real season, Chandler Jones disappears.
In his first season in New England, Jones did not have a sack in the team’s final six games. In 2013, he had 11.5 sacks but only one in the last six games. In 2014, he missed nine games due to injury. In the Patriots three postseason games that year, Jones recorded just one sack. Last season, Jones had his best sack total– 12.5 — but only had two in the last six games and only one in the two playoff games.
Jones was Mr. September and Mr. October with the Patriots, but when the games mattered most, he was nowhere to be found.
Then there are his off-field issues. The Patriots were worried about his maturity and his work ethic. It all came to a head this January when during their bye week before the Kansas City playoff game a disoriented and half naked Jones stumbled into the Foxboro police headquarters, allegedly high on synthetic marijuana.
This is not the type of player or person you want to give upwards of $50 million to in New England.
Now, the Patriots can use the money they saved on Jones to help sign their big four defensive free agents.
For Jones, Belichick received a second round pick, No. 61 in the draft. They will now have back-to-back picks, No. 60 and 61. They can use either pick as trade bait or draft the players they want.
The Patriots also obtained guard Jonathan Cooper from the Cardinals. Cooper was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft but has been a bust in the league. He is under contract for next season, then has a team option worth $12 million for 2017. Don’t look for the Patriots to pick up that option. The hope is that maybe offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia can coach Cooper up.
With Chandler Jones gone, look for the Patriots to add a lower cost veteran at the position. And it looks like free agent Chris Long, who was in Foxboro on Monday, is going to be the guy to replace Jones.
Former Rams DE Chris Long is signing a 1-year deal with the Patriots, per @wingoz. Long helps replace Chandler Jones.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2016