Wow. In an offseason that was quiet for the Patriots so far, Bill Belichick dropped a bombshell today. Chandler Jones, the supposed cornerstone of New England’s front seven for at least the next half decade, has been traded to the Arizona Cardinals for G Jonathan Cooper and a 2016 2nd round draft pick.
While my initial reaction was “What the hell?! Chandler Jones is an animal!,” it’s easy to see what Bill Belichick was thinking here. He realized that Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, and Jabaal Sheard all have contracts that expire after the 2016 season. While it was expected that Jones and Hightower would sign extensions this spring that would decrease their 2016 cap hits, BB obviously felt that he wouldn’t be able to retain all of his young studs. Instead of risking losing Chandler for nothing except a compensatory pick at the end of the 3rd round in 2017, Belichick decided it would be best to gain an offensive guard with some upside, a late 2nd round pick, and $5.40 million in cap space (Jones’ cap hit minus Cooper’s).
I get it. In fact, if you don’t get why Belichick pulled the trigger, then you haven’t been following the Patriots very closely over the past 16 years. I have no complaints about the trade… but I do have a concern. The Patriots clearly take a step back for the 2016 season because of this trade, and that is admittedly a very hard pill to swallow. The Pats are the AFC favorites due to the fact that the Broncos have lost their QB and an awesome pass rusher. It hurts to see them lose a defensive end who had 12.5 sacks last year, just turned 26, and shares many of the same genes as this dude. It’s nearly impossible for the Pats to replace the value of Jones for the 2016 season with a rookie 2nd round pick and whoever they get with the extra $5.4M.
However, despite everything I just said, these are the kinds of trades that make the Patriots the best. Tom Brady and his avocado ice cream diet still have a few more years at an elite level, and this move should signal that Bill Belichick expects the Patriots to be a force long after the 2016 season. Also, Chris Long is visiting the Patriots today, and they can replace at least 80-90% of Jones this season on the defensive line through Sheard, Ninkovich, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, and someone like Long.
Let’s pretend that Bill Belichick gave a damn about the approval of anyone else when he makes a transaction. If he did, then I would give him my blessing on this trade, as much as it sucks to see Chandler Jones leave in a year when they’re probably the favorites to win it all.. If I didn’t approve this trade, it would mean that I wasn’t a full supporter of the dynasty that Bill Belichick has built over the past decade and a half. These are the kinds of trades that he makes, and it’s a move that few others would pull off. But that’s why he’s the best.