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Cardinals Boost Pass-Rush By Adding Jordan Phillips

Defensive tackle had breakout season in 2019 with 9.5 sacks

DT Jordan Phillips gives the Cardinals an interior pass-rushing presence they went without in 2019.
DT Jordan Phillips gives the Cardinals an interior pass-rushing presence they went without in 2019.

Chandler Jones had the second-most sacks in the NFL last season, but he didn't have much help.

General Manager Steve Keim addressed the pass-rushing problem quickly in free agency by zeroing in on Jordan Phillips.

The 27-year-old defensive tackle officially agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Cardinals on Thursday. The deal is for a reported $30 million, immediately making him the marquee name on the d-line. Phillips' deal won't be finalized until he signs the contract -- a process complicated by coronavirus concerns – but the financial terms are in place.

Phillips had a breakout season in 2019 for the Bills, amassing nine-and-a-half sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. While Jones racked up 19 sacks last season and finished second in NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting, no other player on the Cardinals had more than 5.5 sacks.

Phillips will slide in as a starter, joining nose tackle Corey Peters and defensive end Zach Allen as the projected trio in base looks. The Cardinals haven't had a dominant interior presence since the departure of Calais Campbell after the 2016 season, and Phillips will aim to grab that torch.

"Defensive line-wise, we just have to get better," Keim said prior to the start of free agency. "We have to create more pressure, get stronger, more physical."

Phillips' career got off to a slow start, as he mustered only five-and-a-half sacks in his first four seasons in the league. The second-round pick was waived by the Dolphins four games into the 2018 season and was claimed by the Bills.

He didn't make much impact the rest of the season, but re-signed with Buffalo in the offseason and exploded in 2019. Phillips had three sacks in Week 5 against the Titans and was a consistent interior presence the rest of the year.

While the Cardinals' reported trade for receiver DeAndre Hopkins has garnered the majority of the attention early in the league year, the front seven on defense badly needed reinforcements, and the addition of Phillips on a lucrative deal was an aggressive play.

The Cardinals also added edge rusher Devon Kennard and inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, filling all of the major holes on defense in the first wave of free agency.

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