The Patriots traded Chandler Jones in 2016 because he played so well on his rookie deal that they couldn’t afford his looming second contract.
Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim was happy to acquire the Pro Bowl pass-rusher for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick, and Jones has been better than advertised with 41 sacks in three seasons in Arizona.
Even though the business side of football made the trade understandable, Jones has never forgotten it.
He was asked this week about continuing to stay motivated despite four consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks, including an NFL-best 17 in 2017.
“I feel like at any time I can be traded,” Jones said. “It might sound bizarre to say, but I’m someone who has been in that situation. I’ve been traded before and that little sense of rejection is a crappy feeling, honestly. That’s what drives me. That’s what motivates me. I never want to get traded again.”
Jones landed his mammoth deal with the Cardinals, signing a five-year, $82.5 million extension in 2017. While there have been myriad changes around him the past few seasons, Jones has developed into a stabilizing force on defense.
His role has been tweaked this season as he moves from defensive end to outside linebacker, but Jones is the least of concerns for the new staff. Beyond being an excellent plug-and-play talent, he takes pride in impressing the coaches.
“It’s not about getting double-digit sacks,” Jones said. “The big thing is just being consistent. Speaking from a coach’s perspective, you want a player that’s consistent. You want a player that you know what you’re going to get day in and day out, on and off the field. A lot of that gives credit to some of my numbers, and hopefully I can stay consistent.”