Injuries undercut Jonathan Cooper in Arizona, and they have already undercut his brief stay in New England.
The Cardinals' 2013 No. 1 pick, part of the trade that brought linebacker Chandler Jones to the Cardinals this past offseason, was released Saturday by the Patriots. Cooper hurt his foot at the outset of training camp and just came off the injury report this week. He never was able to get back into the mix for playing time after initially working as a starter in the offseason.
It'd be easy to say the Cardinals "won" the Jones trade, although the Patriots dealt Jones for many more reasons than to get Cooper. They needed salary cap room, and they knew they weren't going to be able to bring back Jones -- who will be a free agent -- after this season. The Patriots also flipped the pick during the draft to the Saints to get an extra third- and fourth-round pick, and took guard Joe Thuney -- who, unlike Cooper, is starting -- and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
But the Cardinals definitely came out ahead with the trade from their perspective. Jones has been solid, with four sacks in five games, and played very well against the 49ers. The Cards currently lead the NFL in total sacks. It was worth the loss of a late second-round pick, and the reality was the Cardinals were ready to move on from Cooper.
It's too bad for Cooper. He was playing well in the preseason of 2013 before he broke his leg. After that, he was never the same, and could never stay healthy anyway. I know some will ask about bringing him back given the injuries to the current guards, but Coop hasn't stayed healthy thus far. Don't see the Cardinals going through that availability problem again. UPDATE: Cooper was claimed off waivers by the Browns.