Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 2 hours, you have probably heard that the New England Patriots made a blockbuster deal sending Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd Round draft pick (#61). While I didn't think that a Jones deal would ever actually happen, I was hoping that the Patriots would capitalize on his trade value and cash in before they lose him to free agency.
Lets go through the ups and downs of this deal...
While I would have liked to see the Patriots get a higher draft pick, perhaps in the early second round, picking up a draft pick AND a potential impact player is a great move by Bill Belichick. Jonathan Cooper was drafted 7th overall in 2013, which is the highest drafted offensive guard since 1986. While he has had a plethora of injuries in the past couple of years (broken leg, wrist, toe, etc.), there is obviously a lot of upside in Cooper and Dante Scarnecchia should help with this transition. Additionally, if Cooper does not work, they can just let him go after this season, as he will be a free agent if his option is declined.
I am also a very big fan of the Patriots making the decision to not pay Chandler Jones the type of contract that he will probably demand in free agency. While Jones is a good, not great, defensive end, the type of player that he is commands upwards of $10 million annually on the open market. The Patriots identified that they did not want to build around a player that tends to disappear for a half a season, and for that I commend them.
Could the Patriots package the 60th and 61st overall pick to move up into the early 2nd round, or perhaps even the 1st? What will the Patriots do with their newfound $5.4 million in cap space? We shall see.
It is difficult to say that losing a player of Jones' caliber does not effect your team at all. However, with Jabaal Sheard's sudden emergence, the steady play of Rob Ninkovich, and the potential of Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom, this is a move that the Patriots can stomach. However, I would still like the Patriots to get a little bit more depth on the defensive line (COUGH Chris Long COUGH). Aside from Jabaal Sheard, the Patriots have a lot of question marks on the defensive edge. Can Ninkovich continue his high caliber of play as he continues to progress in age? Can Flowers and Grissom contribute at all, unlike last season? Even Sheard has question marks as he missed time last season.
Aside from depth, this move is really a slam dunk for the New England Patriots. They weren't going to retain Jones after this season with Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Malcolm Butler all slated for a pay raise in the not so distant future.
Final Grade: B/B+