Cardinals Urged to Reunite with Former First-Round Pick in Free Agency

Haason Reddick

Getty The Cardinals can replace Chandler Jones with a former first-round pick.

Chandler Jones will hit the free-agent market this year, so the Arizona Cardinals should be preparing to recruit a veteran replacement. Letting Jones walk likely means losing the franchise’s all-time sack leader, a blow a former first-round pick could help offset.

One NFL writer has urged the Cards to welcome back one versatile edge-rusher who continued to make strides in a new home last season. This player would give the Cardinals a younger, roving playmaker to rebuild the pass rush around.

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Former First-Round Pick Ideal Replacement for Jones

The Cardinals didn’t put the franchise tag on Jones before the deadline on Tuesday, March 8. It means the 32-year-old Jones, who recorded 10.5 sacks a year ago, will likely being playing elsewhere in 2022.

Fortunately, the Cards have options for replacing Jones. One option already known to the team is Haason Reddick, per CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin: “The Cardinals probably never should have let Haason Reddick walk in the first place. He had another productive season rushing the passer in Carolina last year, and with the Cards looking likely to lose Chandler Jones in free agency, they need some help in the pass rush department. Bringing back an old friend makes a lot of sense.”

Dubin has a point about the Cardinals maybe regretting allowing Reddick to find a new team last offseason. He was just coming off a career year, having logged 12.5 sacks and finally shown the potential the Cards believed in when they used the 13th-overall pick to select Reddick in 2017.

Reddick’s career continued on an upturn after he joined the Carolina Panthers. He finished the 2021 season with 11 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Those numbers helped Reddick prove the Cardinals wrong for misusing his talents, according to Doug Farrar of USA Today Sports‘ Touchdown Wire:

This play highlighted Reddick’s ability to win as a standup rusher. He can also collapse the edge and get to the quarterback from both a three- or a four-point stance.

Reddick’s versatility became a factor in a multiple Panthers defense called by coordinator Phil Snow. He moved Reddick all over the front and rushed him from multiple angles.

His levels of flexibility and production should earn Reddick good money before the market officially opens on Wednesday, March 16. It’s money the cash-strapped Cardinals may struggle to put together.


Reddick May Be Priced Out of Cardinals Reunion

General manager Steve Keim doesn’t have much space to work with under the salary cap. The Cardinals are projected to have just $2,744,575 worth of space by Spotrac.com.

Limited funds means the Cardinals are going to have to focus on the middle tier of free agents for help in the pass-rush department. Reddick doesn’t want mid-tier money, according to Cardinals beat reporter Johnny Venerable:

Venerable also pointed out how high the bar has already been set in the edge-rusher market. He used Harold Landry III’s new deal with the Tennessee Titans as the yard stick for Reddick and the other quarterback hunters set to be available:

The Cardinals may need to cast a wider net to replace Jones. There are some intriguing options, such as handing a one-season deal to a veteran like 33-year-old Justin Houston. Or by taking a chance on rising players like Charles Harris and Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Pairing a new face or two with J.J. Watt, Markus Golden and Devon Kennard would ensure the Cardinals can still generate heat on the pass pocket this season. Even if it means doing so without an expensive, blue-chip talent like Reddick.

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