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Patriots Trade Chandler Jones to the Cardinals for G Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd Round Pick

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This is not a drill, folks. Chandler Jones has been traded to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for G Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

File this one under "Didn't See That Coming" because the Patriots and the Cardinals have completed a blockbuster deal.

The Patriots have traded edge rusher Chandler Jones for guard Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick in 2016 (61st overall). Both teams fell short of winning their respective conference championships in 2015 and are looking to load up for the 2016 season. With the Patriots in need for offensive line help and the Cardinals needing an outside pass rusher, the deal came together. If the Patriots had held onto Jones and let him walk on the first day of free agency next year, he would have gotten a 2018 3rd round pick.

This report came out of nowhere, because I was not expecting the Patriots to trade for Chandler Jones while the Patriots were loading up for a Super Bowl run in 2016. Now we know why the Patriots brought in Chris Long for a visit and the interest behind it. Chandler Jones was drafted by the Patriots 21st overall in the 2012 draft and has been a solid, but inconsistent player for them over four years. He had two double-digit sack seasons (2013, 2015), although the Patriots probably didn't like his inconsistent play. I wish the best of luck for Jones with the Arizona Cardinals, except for that one game they play the Patriots.

On the Patriots return, this is a very good deal because you get more value than you would keeping him plus you free up about $5M in cap space for the 2016 season, which I suspect they'll use to sign Chris Long as the 3rd DE in the rotation. The Patriots will receive a freakishly athletic guard that hasn't been able to crack the Cardinals lineup due to bad circumstances. With a fresh start in New England, perhaps we'll see him blossom under Dante Scarnecchia's tutelage. Going into camp, I have the Patriots projected starting offensive line as:

Nate Solder-Jonathan Cooper-Bryan Stork-Shaq Mason-Sebastian Vollmer

With the interior OL likely taken care of in the free agency process, the Patriots next step towards addressing the OL will likely come through the draft. With Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon in contract years and no real reason to keep them past 2016, I wouldn't be surprised if one of their top two picks was a tackle.