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Chandler Jones Says Future Will Be Determined By Who Maximizes Chandler Jones

Linebacker about to hit unrestricted free-agent market

Chandler Jones, near the end of the season, didn't have much desire to talk about his potential free agency and future.

But now that the Cardinals did the expected and did not use the franchise tag on the 32-year-old pass rusher, he is set to be on the market next week (with his agent able to start talking to teams Monday afternoon). With that as the backdrop, Jones recently took time to chat with former teammate Logan Ryan on "The NFL Players Podcast" and went in depth about being a free agent.

The main thing Jones insisted upon? Money will not be the driving force of the team he chooses.

"To be completely honest, it's not about money at all," Jones said. "Where I am in my career, I've gotten contracts, I've gotten the Super Bowl, but I think scheme is huge. Or for me, winning more championships. I'll say it again, it's not about money. I will say I want to go to a place that maximizes my talents. There have been times in my career where I'd say I caught myself out of position. I do take the blame, but at the same time it's like, 'Hey, should I have been doing that?' I have enough comfort where I am in my career and this age to say that.

"Where does Chandler Jones become Chandler Jones? Where can he maximize his talent? I think there were a few times you saw it this season, where you were like, who is this guy? Week 1, five sacks ... so you see flashes of it, and I'm pretty sure there were times where people said, 'Why did it disappear, where is it going?' Not to put it on just the game plan -- I'm sure there were a lot of different things that goes into it. But again, going into free agency, what team maximizes Chandler Jones' talents?"

It would be naive to think money won't factor in at all. But does this mean Jones feels the Cardinals don't maximize his use? Vance Joseph was the defensive coordinator in 2019 when Jones had a career-best 19 sacks. Jones was asked to drop into coverage once in a while, however.

"There are a lot of different things I have to think about," Jones said. "This is a time I can really focus on myself and what fits for me. Being a free agent, in my 10, 11 years of playing, I've never had the opportunity to pick what scheme I wanted to be in or what kind of defense. I've always (had it) handed to me. Not complaining, but I was drafted to the Patriots, and then I was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. While I was on the Cardinals I had about three defensive coordinators, a lot of different defensive coaches, and I never had the opportunity to actually say, 'Hey, this is what I want to do.' I get to pick what scheme I'm going to be in, and that will be huge in my decision."

It'll be interesting to see how Jones' free agency plays out. Money might not be the main thing, but it's hard to see Jones playing for a deeply discounted contract just because he likes a team's scheme. It seems unlikely he will end up returning to Arizona at this point, but that's still TBD.

"Arizona has been tremendous, even with this season," Jones said. "It didn't end the way we wanted to, obviously, but we were definitely headed in the right direction. We had 10-plus wins, and whoever I'm playing for next year, hopefully we can build on that."

"It's exciting for me," Jones added. "This is a great position to be in and I wouldn't want it to be any other way."

LB Chandler Jones celebrates a sack in Tennessee in 2021

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