Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones signs his new five-year contract Friday.
The Cardinals put the franchise tag on Chandler Jones, but it wasn't needed for long.
With the free-agent period only about a day old, the team and Jones were able to reach an agreement on a new five-year contract extension that not only keeps the linebacker in Arizona in the foreseeable future but also will lower his 2017 salary cap number and give the team more flexibility in free agency.
"Every interview I've had since I've been here, everyone has asked me, 'How long are you going to be here? Are you
going to be a free agent? Are you going to test the market?' " Jones said. "Today has been a great day."
Jones was tagged Feb. 27, although the Cardinals have been talking to him about a long-term deal since before last season. Jones was acquired in a trade with New England a year ago.
"I knew their intentions were to do a long-term deal," Jones said.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but reportedly will be around $82 million in potential total value and about $53 million guaranteed – in the range of the $52 million guaranteed that Giants pass rusher Olivier Vernon received last offseason. The Arizona Republic reported Jones' cap number will be around $10 million, lowered from the $14.5 million it would have been had he played under the tag.
Jones posted 11½ sacks in his first year with the Cardinals after four seasons as a Patriot. Jones, who turned 27 the day he was tagged, combined with fellow linebacker Markus Golden (12½ sacks) to lead the Cardinals to the most
sacks in the NFL.
Jones said he still has room for improvement, specifically noting he'd like to get more consistent.
"Being here in my first year, I was trying to shadow a little bit, feel my way around," Jones said. "Now that I know I'm going to be here, I can change roles a little bit. Be more of a leader. Be more vocal."
The Cardinals' front office wanted to make leadership and locker-room chemistry more of an emphasis this offseason. That was part of the reason they wanted to sign safety Antoine Bethea Thursday, and Jones stepping up will be important with the free-agent losses of defensive tackle Calais Campbell and safety Tony Jefferson.
The team will also benefit if they add veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby as anticipated.
"The NFL, it's a business," Jones said. "Those guys (who left) are great players, great teammates and I wish them all well. Those guys will be missed for sure, in the locker room and on the field, but as a player, I really truly trust our front office, our owner and our GM and our coach that we will have the guys that will take us where we need to be."
Images of the Cardinals players who registered sacks in 2016, led by LB Markus Golden