Jordan Phillips was a dominant interior defensive lineman a season ago, but because it took him five years to get there, many are wondering if he can do it again.
The Cardinals certainly believe so, as they inked him to a three-year deal worth a reported $30 million early in free agency.
Phillips is eager to repay that trust in 2020 and prove to everybody "that this wasn't a one-year thing."
"I was made for this," Phillips said. "I was built for this. (I want to) let everybody in Arizona know they got the real deal."
Phillips was a second-round pick of the Dolphins in 2015, but never lived up to that billing in Miami. He accumulated only 5½ sacks in 48 games and was released four games into his fourth season.
He was claimed off waivers by the Bills, and it all came together last year. Phillips had 9½ sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. The sack total was second to only Aaron Donald among interior linemen.
"A lot of people think it was some miracle or I was playing for a contract, etcetera, but I had more of an opportunity," Phillips said. "It was the first time in my career being on the third down group. … Buffalo did a really good job utilizing my talents, and they reaped the benefits of it."
Despite the slow start to his career, Phillips never doubted his ability to be a difference-maker. While some players would have been concerned about getting released by the team that drafted them, Phillips was ready to move on.
"Nobody really knew what happened," Phillips said. "Just to get it out there: I had asked for my release. There were a lot of reports about the sideline outburst and everything like that, but it just wasn't true. We had come to the Dolphins before training camp and asked for a release or a trade. And finally, after that game, they just felt like it was time.
"For me, personally, I felt like that was the jumpstart to my career. Fresh start, new team, new faces, new opportunities. What helped my career the most was leaving there."
Phillips will reunite with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who coached him in Miami in 2016. While the 3-4 defense is different from the 4-3 Phillips excelled in a season ago, the attacking style Joseph employs fits his skillset. Phillips said he doesn't yet know exactly what position he will play.
Phillips is excited to pair up with All-Pro edge rusher Chandler Jones, who regularly receives the majority of attention from protection schemes in passing situations.
"Selfishly, it's going to take double teams away from me and help me get free," Phillips said. "When you have somebody like that, who has averaged 15 sacks the last few years, you don't seem like a concern. All the focus is on him, and I just get to do my thing. But I can also open up lanes for him to he can go do his thing. Hopefully we can be a dynamic tandem."