The NFL Live crew react to the Patriots trading DE Chandler Jones to the Cardinals for OG Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick, and how both players have question marks moving forward to their new teams. (2:32)
The Cardinals announced the blockbuster deal Tuesday, saying it will be completed pending physicals for both Jones and Cooper.
Jones recorded a career-high 12.5 sacks last season and should bolster the Cardinals’ pass rush; Arizona reached the NFC Championship Game despite ranking just 20th in the NFL with 36 sacks.
Jones took to Twitter on Tuesday to thank the Patriots and their fans.
Jones was scheduled to earn $ 7.79 million as part of the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. He is one of several core defenders whose contracts were set to expire after the 2016 season — a group including linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, defensive end Jabaal Sheard and cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Faced with potentially losing him via free agency next offseason, the Patriots traded defensive end Chandler Jones to the Cardinals.
The Patriots also are without a first-round pick in this year’s draft as a result of the NFL’s Deflategate penalties, so acquiring an additional second-rounder — albeit a pick later in the round — helps partially offset that loss.
Jones, 26, was hospitalized two months ago after showing up shirtless and disoriented at the Foxborough Police station because of a bad reaction to a substance he put in his body. He later apologized, referring to the incident as “a pretty stupid mistake.”
While the Patriots lose a top pass-rusher in Jones, they are still deep at the position with Sheard, Rob Ninkovich and 2015 draft picks Geneo Grissom (third round) and Trey Flowers (fourth round). The Patriots also hosted veteran defensive end Chris Long on a free-agent visit Monday.
A first-round draft selection in 2012, Jones had 36 sacks in 55 career games with the Patriots.
Cooper was a first-round pick in 2013 and figures to improve a Patriots offensive line that struggled to protect quarterback Tom Brady in this year’s AFC Championship Game loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
With linebacker Dwight Freeney’s return to the Cardinals next season still uncertain, Arizona needed to address its issues at pass rush sooner rather than later. Freeney, 36, had eight sacks in 11 games this past season.
By moving Cooper, Arizona rids itself of a former seventh overall pick who had yet to fulfill expectations that accompany a top-10 pick. He’s struggled to overcome the mental hurdles formed after breaking his leg in the third preseason game of his rookie season.
Since then, Cooper hasn’t been the same. He lost a starting job at left guard in 2014 and was moved to right guard in 2015 before eventually losing that starting job, too. The Cardinals were planning on trying Cooper at center once offseason practices began this year, making it his third position in as many years.
Aside from the broken leg three years ago, minor injuries have also hindered Cooper throughout his career.
ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and The Associated Press contributed to this report.