The Arizona Cardinals pass rush was extremely non-existent against a Los Angeles Rams offensive line without their two main starters.
Of course, you can circle many reasons why the Cardinals lost to the Rams on Monday Night football. But letting Matthew Stafford garner as much time as he had in the pocket proved to be a disaster, posting a 139.2 passer rating and three touchdowns.
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Zach Allen and Chandler Jones recorded a sack on Stafford. But the rest of the Cardinals’ defensive front couldn’t get the job done.
Other than Jones’ lone sack and fumble on one play, the edge rusher probably shouldn’t show the game film against the Rams when it’s his time to get paid in the 2022 season.
A panel of analysts debated about Jones’ future.
Analysts Discuss Jones’ Future
On the December 14 episode of Heavy Presents: I’m Just Saying, Heavy’s panel of NFL analysts were asked one question: What’s a perfect free agency fit for the New York Jets?
The Jets are 3-10 and have the longest active playoff drought in the NFL with 11 straight seasons. Jets general manager Joe Douglas should look at any means necessary of stockpiling defensive talent. The team is among the worst in all defensive metrics in 2021.
“Let’s get Chandler Jones, let’s bring that baby back home,” said Esden Jr. “Syracuse guy. Born and bred in New York. The Jets need an edge rusher. For god’s sake, it’s a match made in heaven. Carl Lawson, Chandler Jones. I mean come on people, let’s make it happen. Let’s make it rain from the heavens. For the first time since John Abraham, give me the pass rusher.”
The three-time Pro Bowler will be turning 32 entering free agency in 2022. Jones requested a trade before the 2021 training camp and still doesn’t have a contract extension. After compiling five sacks in the season opener, Jones has had just 4½ sacks since in 12 games.
Jones’ calculated market value is $15.5 million per season on a three-year deal worth $46 million, according to Spotrac. That’s less than Jones’ current adjusted average salary per year.
I’m Just Saying host Brian Mazique wasn’t fond of Esden’s choice for the Jets.
“I hate it,” said Mazique. “I absolutely hate this idea. This is a clear example of a delusional Jet fan. Why in the blue hell would you get a 31-year-old edge rusher when you know your team is far away from winning as I am of having hair.”
Mazique is bald.
While it could be unlikely for the Jets to sign Jones in the offseason, the conversation leads to a question for all Cardinals fans. Will Jones return to the desert after the season?
Cardinals Decision with Jones
The Cardinals have a boatload of unrestricted free agents in 2022. Jones headlines the free agents for Arizona, but then there’s A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, James Conner, Chase Edmonds, Zach Ertz and the injured Maxx Williams.
Despite not having the stellar potential Pro Bowl season that he’s hoped, Jones is still having a blast.
“What ultimately is fun is winning. That’s what’s most fun, is winning,” Jones said on December 9. “I think that’s what’s most important. It’s more fun when you win. Those two games that we lost, those weren’t the best feeling.”
There’s still no question that Jones has put together a good season. Jones needs a half a sack to post a double-digit sack total for the seventh time in his career and the fifth time for the Cardinals. But the Cardinals could’ve paid Jones in the summer, but they didn’t. They’ve already paid J.J. Watt through 2022 and still need to sign other players to the roster.
Fortunately, the salary cap will increase by $18 million in 2022 according to Tom Pelissero. Jones can still be attainable, especially around his projected $15.5 million per season via Spotrac. But if Jones is still playing at the good, not elite level, for the rest of the season, the Cardinals shouldn’t be close to his 2021 $20 million cap hit for his future contract.
Of course, Cardinals fans should enjoy being one win away against the Lions to reaching a playoff berth. But for management, future roster decisions are always in the back of their heads.
Only so many can be kept by general manager Steve Keim.