Patriots Advised to Bring Back Former Sacks Leader

Getty Chandler Jones

The New England Patriots‘ defensive line wasn’t too shabby in 2021, but one NFL analyst is still advising the team to bring Chandler Jones in free agency. The Patriots elected not to pay Jones the big bucks he was looking for in free agency back in 2015.

Chances are the salary demand won’t be for a contract the Patriots refuse to pay.

ESPN’s Matt Bowen and Jeremy Fowler call the Patriots the best fit for Jones. “At this stage, Jones — who turns 32 this month — has good reason to seek a contending team,” Fowler wrote. “New England showed a willingness to spend big in last year’s free agency, and it can use its familiarity with Jones’ game to pair him with Matthew Judon off the edge. Jones could also serve as a hybrid weapon for the Patriots.” 

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The thought of pairing Jones with last season’s sack leader Judon is exciting. The two men combined for 23 sacks in 2021 and both made it to the Pro Bowl. Jones began his career with the Patriots and had 12.5 sacks in his final year with the team back in 2015. He’ll be 32 on February 27, but is still capable of producing seasons with double-digit sacks.

“At this stage of his career, Jones fits best in a heavily schemed front, which he will get with Bill Belichick in New England,” Bowen added. “And the Patriots need another pass-rusher opposite of Judon who can be deployed from multiple alignments.”

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Chandler Jones’ Uneven 2021 Season

Jones’ 10.5 sacks are the main stat we see when pointing out the former Defensive Player of the Year’s strong 2021, but it is important to remember he got almost half of the total in Week 1 vs. Tennessee Titans.

Jones exploded for 5 sacks to start the season and then didn’t get another one until Week 9 against the San Francisco 49ers. He did miss 2 games because of COVID-19, but there is some reason to take note of the major dip in production.

Can Jones still be productive and effective? Probably, but will he be worth his asking price? While would have liked to have more balance in his season, the Patriots can use a player who generates 10 sacks per season.

Where Did the Patriots Rank in Sacks?

In 2021, despite Judon’s strong season, the Patriots ranked just 18th in the NFL in sacks with 36. Judon had his own sack drought late in the season.

He went the last four games of the season without a sack and the Patriots were 1-3 in that span. When offenses began to key on Judon, he didn’t get much help in the way of generating a pass rush from his teammates.

The next closest Patriots player to Judon in sacks was Kyle Van Noy and he only had 5. The Patriots almost certainly need to upgrade their pass rush, but they may be able to find a better option than bringing back Jones.

Whether they look in the draft, a trade or elsewhere in free agency, New England must do its due diligence when it comes to adding an edge rusher.

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Ken Pittman
Ken Pittman
1 year ago

Chandler has proven to be an elite player and would help the Patriots as long as he is paid well but not a salary which cripples the ability for other key FA signings. He’s great pass rusher who also tackles well against the run.