BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Seven things I learned at the NFL’s annual meeting about the New England Patriots' trade of defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a second-round draft choice and guard Jonathan Cooper:
Injuries a big part of Cooper’s struggles. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Cooper ran into “bad luck” in Arizona, which is why the 2013 first-round pick started only 11 games over three years. “He came in and was the player and athlete we thought he was. He was doing great, then he breaks a leg. Next year he gets a high ankle sprain and struggles through that. Gets an MCL the next year. He always had an injury and could never make the jump to what we thought he could be,” Arians said, adding that a fresh start should benefit him.
Don’t be surprised if Cooper emerges under Dante Scarnecchia. It didn’t work out in Arizona, but Arians said of Cooper, “I think he is still going to be one heck of a player.” He mentioned the presence of Patriots offensive coordinator Dante Scarnecchia twice in his comments, seeming to think Scarnecchia is the type of coach who can help Cooper tap his potential.
Lack of practice early hurt Cooper. After breaking his leg in the third preseason game of his rookie season, Cooper fell behind without the chance to practice. “He came out of a spread zone offense and he needed the practice time and the fundamental time,” Arians said.
Patriots sparked under-the-radar talks. Arians said the Patriots made the initial contact and he liked the description of “stealth” to describe how the trade came together because both sides kept talks under the radar. “I think it surprised everyone. It wasn’t long, within a matter of eight days, I’m sure.”
Jones might not move around as much. Unlike in New England, where he would reduce inside at times on passing downs, occasionally flip sides at defensive end and sometimes drop into coverage, Jones will be used more exclusively in a specific spot for the Cardinals. “[Jones made] 12.5 sacks playing all over the place, we’ll see what he can do on one side all the time,” Arians said. “I think it could be pretty dynamic.”
Cardinals confident they will re-sign Jones. Arians said that when the Cardinals are without a second-round pick in the draft, he will put Jones’ name up on the board and “everyone is jumping for joy.” As for the possibility Jones is just a one-year rental, Arians said, “He’s 26 years old. We’ll be able to re-sign him. We think we have a dynamic edge rusher; that is probably one of the hardest things to find in the league right now.”
Skyrocketing cost of DEs doesn’t concern Cardinals. Arians said the Cardinals know about the rising financial market of defensive ends and he’s not concerned. “If you ain’t got one, you’re begging for one,” he said. “We know the price tag of those guys.”