The book is closed on the Chandler Jones era in New England.
The Patriots traded the talented yet inconsistent defensive end to the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday in exchange for a second-round draft pick and guard Jonathan Cooper, a former first-round selection.
The most obvious reason for the Patriots’ decision to trade Jones, a high-ceiling pass rusher who’s just 26 years old, was his contract. Jones is set to become a free agent after the 2016 season, at which point New England has several other key players slated to hit the open market. There was no way the Patriots could afford to re-sign everyone, especially with the price of able pass rushers, such as Jones, skyrocketing in free agency.
But there’s an elephant in the room: Jones’ off-the-field issue.
Jones showed up at the Foxboro Police station shirtless and non-confrontational one week before the Patriots’ AFC divisional-round playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs in January. He reportedly was hospitalized for a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana.
It didn’t take long for the incident to blow over, as Jones held himself accountable and apologized before New England took down Kansas City en route to an AFC Championship Game berth. But it probably didn’t sit well with Bill Belichick and Co., who are proactive in minimizing distractions throughout the season, especially leading up to big games. At the very least, it was a temporary annoyance.
With Jones now in the desert, we’re left to wonder whether the Patriots would have approached the situation differently had the former first-round pick not pulled his random stunt prior to New England’s playoff opener. This isn’t to say Jones still would be with the Patriots if he stuck to the straight and narrow all season, but it’s a definite talking point in the wake of his departure.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images