Addition of Chris Long caps off intriguing day for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tuesday started with a look at veteran defensive end Chris Long and the potential trickle-down effect of his signing with the New England Patriots. Let's end the day by taking it one step further.

Where there was smoke, there was fire.

Long is coming to New England on a one-year deal, according to ESPN's Trey Wingo, with the agreement reached only hours after the club traded defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for guard Jonathan Cooper and a 2016 second-round draft choice.

Now it all makes sense, the pieces from the past two days fitting together as the two moves were obviously interrelated.

On Monday, the Patriots' visit and workout with Long didn't necessarily seem to add up, because of all the positions on the roster, defensive end was one of the club's deepest and most talented. One of the only things that could change that, and this was noted earlier Tuesday, was if the club could be enticed to trade Jones.

But was there even a suitor? And if so, would the compensation work for all involved?

The Cardinals had the need, desire and assets to make it work, and as we've seen with the Bill Belichick-led Patriots over the years -- from Drew Bledsoe to the Bills in 2002, to Richard Seymour to the Raiders in 2009, to Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers in 2014 -- they're not shy about striking a locker-room-reverberating trade quickly and never looking back.

This is classic Belichick in that sense, moving around the pieces of the roster, redistributing salary with the future in mind, and adding draft assets in the process.

As for Long and what he might bring to New England, Belichick sometimes says that he doesn't decide a player's role, that it's up to the player, and he cites the example of linebacker Roman Phifer from 2001. At the time, Phifer (who like Long played for the Rams) was at the tail end of his career but still playing at a high level when he signed with the Patriots.

"I told him he'd be a role player," Belichick once said. "Turned out his role was to play every down."

Maybe that's the way it turns out with the soon-to-be-31-year-old Long, who said he wanted to play for a contender, as he joins Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers and Rufus Johnson on a crowded defensive end depth chart. Or maybe he's more like another later-career veteran, defensive end Andre Carter, who was effective as a rotational player and part-time starter in 2011. It's also possible, as we saw with someone like former Saints defensive end Will Smith in 2014 training camp, that it doesn't work out at all.

This one will be fun to watch unfold.