Cardinals bolster pass-rush depth by agreeing with Jarvis Jones

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Once outside linebacker Alex Okafor signed with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, the Arizona Cardinals needed to find his replacement.

It didn’t take them long to agree to a deal with Jarvis Jones, as his agent tweeted out Tuesday afternoon. Jones may have taken a reduced role to come to Arizona, but as a backup he’ll fit into Arizona’s three-linebacker, one-defensive tackle set.

Terms: One year, money not yet known.

ESPN 150 ranking: 71

Grade: B-plus. Jones fills a need. The Cardinals were looking to add depth to their pass rush after Okafor signed with the New Orleans Saints on Monday. Even though Jones never lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick after being drafted by the Steelers 17th overall in 2013, he still has the talent to be effective contributor to the Cardinals’ pass rush in a backup role.

What it means: Even though Jones didn’t flourish in Pittsburgh, he might find a better role in Arizona and have a breakout year behind Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. Jarvis Jones will also give the Cardinals talent on their second line of pass-rushers, which Arizona likes to use in a three-linebacker, one-defensive tackle package. With Jarvis Jones on the roster, Kareem Martin will continue to have time to develop after moving to outside linebacker from defensive tackle two years ago. With Jarvis Jones being agreeing to a one-year prove-it deal, as ESPN NFL Nation reporter Jeremy Fowler reported, he could be motivated to turn in an impressive season in order to cash in.

What’s the risk? Jones had only seven sacks in Pittsburgh in four years -- disappointing numbers for a former first-round pick. The risk with signing Jones is two-fold, yet related: He may not get a lot of playing time behind the starters, and if he does play, he may not produce like expected. The Cardinals took significant steps in upgrading their pass rush last offseason, and a move like signing Jarvis Jones will be looked at as a way to bolster that effort, but only if he can contribute.