It’s speculation season in the NFL. Insiders are officially throwing stuff out there, and a new piece suggests that the Patriots make a lot of sense for one of the league’s top free agents – particularly because he’s played for them before.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Matt Bowen have tabbed the Patriots as the “best team fit” for edge rusher and old friend Chandler Jones, who is coming off his fourth Pro-Bowl season. Jones ranks fourth on 985TheSportsHub.com’s official 2022 free agent rankings, which you can read below this story. He’s now a 10-year veteran at 31 years old, but still delivered 10.5 sacks and 26 quarterback hits in 15 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021.
Fowler believes that Jones “good reason to seek a contending team,” and that the Patriots “can use its familiarity with Jones’ game to pair him with Matthew Judon off the edge.” Bowen, meanwhile, says Jones at this stage of his career fits best in a “heavily schemed front” in which he could “be deployed from multiple alignments.”
The fit and familiarity are clear for Jones, who went to the Patriots 21st overall in the 2012 draft and played 55 games (52 starts) in four seasons. He also played 10 playoff games for the Patriots, with nine starts, including Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks.
Fowler and Bowen “analyzed rosters, made calls to league personnel and mapped out the best fits for the best players available” to come up with their list, they explained.
With Jones and any other free agent of his caliber, the obvious question is money. His last extension with the Cardinals was his big cash-in, when he earned more than $82.5 million over a five-year pact. But Jones should still be able to land something close to that AAV on his next team, just with less term.
The Patriots haven’t been against betting big short-term money on high-end talents who, for various reasons, needed a one-year resurgence before cashing in elsewhere. Jones’ status isn’t necessarily the same as Darrelle Revis’ was in 2014, and certainly not even comparable to Antonio Brown mess in 2019. So there’s a chance he proves expensive, for a guy who will be 32 years old when the 2022 season starts.
At the same time, the Patriots have needed an infusion of talent at defensive end ever since losing Trey Flowers after 2018. And they could especially use a short-term boost while they still have quarterback Mac Jones on his rookie deal, assuming he delivers elite value for a cheap starter. There’s maneuvering to be done with the cap, but in theory, the Patriots are in an ideal spot to invest in more high-end pieces around their quarterback.
We’ll see if they are willing to reel in a fish as big as Jones off the open market. And this is all assuming there are no hard feelings after the Patriots traded Jones away in 2016. But if the Patriots look to keep spending, reuniting with Jones would make sense.
Read below for the official 2022 free agent rankings from 985TheSportsHub.com.
Ranked: Top-20 NFL free agents of 2022
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.