The whole NFL world knows the Arizona Cardinals have three choices after news broke that Chandler Jones had requested a trade.
When you get right down to it, there is only one option that makes total sense short term and long term for the franchise.
Let’s start with this fact: getting to the quarterback is a young man’s game.
Since the NFL started recording sacks, only three players have led the league in sacks that were aged 31 or older: Robert Mathis, Michael Strahan and Kevin Greene, who did it twice.
The average age of the NFL’s sack champion since 2000 is 26.
In fact, Chandler Jones and JJ Watt have both finished seasons as the sack champion. Jones did it at age 27, Watt did so at age 23 and 25.
Digging a little bit deeper, during the 2020 NFL season only one player 31 or older finished in the top 20 in sacks for the league: Jason Pierre Paul.
Seven total pass rushers aged 31 or older finished with six sacks or more.
We’re used to seeing primes extended and players aging incredibly gracefully but it simply has not happened at pass rusher.
If a simple Profootballreference.com search produced these results, I can’t imagine NFL teams aren’t very aware of them as well.
Which makes trading Chandler Jones extremely unlikely. Many people point to the Julio Jones trade as a precedent for a Chandler Jones trade but I disagree. What NFL team is trading a second round pick for a 31 year old pass rusher coming off a season ending injury that is seeking a new deal?
Chandler Jones isn’t going to be traded because right now trading Chandler Jones probably doesn’t net the Cardinals enough to justify it.
Signing him to a contract extension doesn’t make sense for many of the same reasons his trade value is depressed. With Kyler Murray rapidly approaching mega-deal territory, the Cardinals future cap space must be protected at all costs. Overpaying for an older pass rusher should not be a part of the long term plan.
Aging pass rushers are always available on short, cheap-ish deals. Look at Melvin Ingram and the Steelers, most recently.
The only option that makes sense is to do nothing. No trade, no extension, just business as usual.
Steve Keim can’t possibly screw that up, can he?