Cardinals’ Top Free Agent Tipped to Solve Seahawks’ Biggest Problem

Chandler Jones

Getty Will the Cardinals' best pass-rusher play for a division rival in 2022?

Chandler Jones is the marquee name among the Arizona Cardinals’ impending free agents this offseason, and with good reason. He’s still a prolific pass-rusher able to generate game-changing heat from the edge.

The Cardinals know all about Jones’ skills, having watched him become the franchise leader in sacks during six stellar seasons. What the Cards won’t want to see is Jones plying his trade for a division rival in 2022.

That’s the scenario explored by one NFL writer, who believes Jones can solve the biggest problem holding back a dormant power in the NFC West.

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Jones a Good Fit for Pass-Rush-Needy Rival

One team who should be prepared to push the boat out for Jones in free agency is the Seattle Seahawks. That’s according to Justin Melo, a staff writer at The Draft Network, who believes Jones would end a dismal cycle of Seattle trying and failing to find a dominant pass-rusher via the draft.

Melo believes Seahawks’ general manager John Schneider has “poured plenty of draft capital into the position throughout the years, and the need to pay a high-priced, proven EDGE defender has mercilessly arrived.”

Jones is the proven commodity Melo thinks would fit well on a Seattle defense that “recorded a measly 34 sacks in 17 regular-season contests, and none of their edge defenders reached 10 or more quarterback takedowns.”

It’s a good fit because the Seahawks know first hand about the damage Jones can do to offenses. He’s been inflicting punishment on Seattle’s unit for years, just like he did on this play, captured by Pro Football Journal, during Week 18 last season:

Jones is also a great fit for the kind of schemes Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll oversees on defense. Carroll has long constructed his front sevens around a versatile edge-rusher known as “Leo,” a hybrid linebacker and defensive end type. It’s only the role Jones has been playing ever since he was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2012.

He is still effective either as a standup rusher or with his hand in the dirt, but Jones has been lacking consistency in recent seasons. Of his 10.5 sacks logged in 2021, Jones recorded five against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1.

The bumper day put Jones in select company, per Pro Football Reference, but his relative slump following the opening week raised questions about the veteran’s longevity:

Inconsistency is one reason why the Cardinals might to choose to move on from Jones this offseason. The other is cold, hard cash. General manager Steve Keim may not have enough of that commodity to keep Jones around for a few more years.

Cost Means Jones Is Likely to Leave

Retaining Jones will be a problem because the numbers don’t add up for the Cardinals. The franchise is projected by to have just $2,744,575 worth of space under the salary cap. That modest figure is in stark contrast to the $35,399,263 the Seahawks will have to play with ahead of free agency opening on Wednesday, March 16.

The Cards’ bigger problem is the type of payday Jones is expected to receive in this year’s market. Cardinals beat reporter Johnny Venerable referenced Spotrac to show the hefty figures:

It will be more cost effective for the Cardinals to let Jones walk and try and find his replacement in this year’s draft. Picking 23rd overall should allow Keim to still pluck a gifted edge-rusher from a class loaded at the position.

Florida State’s Senior Bowl standout Jermaine Johnson II should be on the Cards’ radar, according to Kyle Stackpole of CBS Sports. The Cardinals have options for easing the transition to life without Jones, even if it means seeing him suit up for a rival.