UPDATE (4:50 p.m. ET): The New England Patriots confirmed Tuesday that they traded defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and a 2016 second-round draft pick (61st overall).
Before the confirmation came, Jones tweeted a thank you message to Patriots fans.
ORIGINAL STORY: The New England Patriots reportedly traded one of their biggest stars Tuesday in a blockbuster deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Patriots sent defensive end Chandler Jones to the Cardinals for a second-round draft pick (61st overall) and guard Jonathan Cooper, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Jones was entering the final year of his contract and was set to earn $7,799,000 in 2016. The Patriots now have over $17.6 million in salary cap space.
Jones, who had 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2015, was involved in an embarrassing incident in January, when the 26-year-old arrived at the Foxboro Police Station shirtless after reportedly having a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana. He recorded 36 sacks in four seasons with the Patriots after being the 21st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Cooper, 26, was the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he has played in just 24 games (starting 11) since coming into the NFL. He was in the middle of a move to center in Arizona.
Cooper joins a crowded group of Patriots interior linemen — including Shaq Mason, Tre’ Jackson, Josh Kline, Bryan Stork and David Andrews — but if he can stay healthy, he has high upside.
The Patriots are left with Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, Rufus Johnson and Eric Martin at pass rusher. Sheard played at a starting level last season despite being a rotational player. Pass rusher Chris Long reportedly was scheduled to visit the Patriots earlier this week.
The Patriots now have the 60th and 61st overall selections in the second round of next month’s draft.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images