Rumors out of New England have the Patriots possibly looking to part ways with troubled defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones is in the last year of his rookie deal that will pay him 7.7 million dollars. New England could easily fit him under the cap this season. The question is, do the Patriots want to get something for Jones before he leaves for free agency after the season.
The pros: Chandler Jones is unquestionably a freak athlete. Jones is 6-5 280 with the speed to drop into coverage. This is the textbook size for a 3-4 edge rusher that the Steelers covet. He is coming off a career high 12.5 sacks for the Patriots this season. That total is more then double what any Steeler defender produced in 2015. Given all this, Jones’ value still may be at an all time low. Teams generally don’t pay a high price when acquiring a player with only one year left on the contract. Combine that with Jones’ off field problems and Pittsburgh may only have to shell out a mid round pick to acquire Jones.
The Cons: Probably the only reason Chandler Jones is available is his offfield issues. Jones showed up at the Foxboro police station under the influence of synthetic marijuana this past season. This could lead to a league suspension during the 2016 season. This incedant leads to the next question of what do you do with Jones after the 2016 season? How much risk is there signing Jones to a long term deal knowing these issues Jones has had. The Steelers could franchise him after this season, giving them 2 full years to decide if the drug issues were a one time thing. The problem with that is the franchise number going into 2016 for an outside linebacker is 14 million dollars. That number is sure to go up in 2017 when Pittsburgh would be franchising Jones.
The verdict: In my opinion a trade for Chandler Jones is a no brainer depending on the compensation the Steelers would have to give New England. Clearly Jones is better then anyone the Steelers currently have and is clearly better then anyone they could acquire in the draft. Pittsburgh is very close to contending for a title, and Chandler Jones is exactly what is needed to put them over the top. If New England were willing to take even as high as a third round pick, that’s a deal the Steelers should make. What if Pittsburgh offered a wide receiver like Markus Wheaton in exchange for Jones. That’s a deal that helps both teams needs. Chandler Jones is not a player without baggage, but he may be the piece the Steelers need to win it all.