NFL 

Arizona and New England pull off a rarity in sports, a win-win trade

Free Agency Frenzy is in full swing. It is the time of year when players embark on personal endeavors in order to gauge their worth to other teams. When money talks and players walk, if necessary. Trades are also an essential component of free agency. Trades encompass a variety of different aspects ranging from trading current players to future draft picks, every team shares a unified mindset and only one goal, to improve. The hope is to put your team in a  better position moving forward into next season.

The New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals have agreed to a trade. Up to this point, both teams had been fairly quite during the free agency period. Each team has been taking their time assessing the market and looking to take care of in-house players, making them the top priority.

The Patriots are trading defensive end Chandler Jones and in exchange the Cardinals are trading offensive guard Jonathan Cooper and a 2016 second-round draft pick. A trade of this magnitude offers intriguing implications for both parties involved. From an outside perspective this trade is essentially a win-win for both teams. From the Cardinals perspective, they immediately fill a need within their defense by adding a dynamic young pass rusher.

The Cardinals current group of defensive ends consists of Calais Campbell, Corey Redding, Ed Stinson, Frostee Rocker, Josh Mauro, and Kareem Martin. The Cardinals have been searching for a premier pass-rusher and Jones provides an immediate upgrade at that position. For all the praise the Cardinals defense received last season, their achilles heel remained generating a constant pass rush. Arizona’s top three pass rushers are either approaching 30 or are on the other side of 30 by the time the season will start.

Jones reinvigorates the Cardinals with youth, athleticism, and a championship pedigree. At the age of 26, Jones is a veteran of four seasons with the Patriots. As a first-round draft pick (21st overall) in the 2012 draft, he has proved he is a valuable pass rusher in this league. The 6-foot-5, 265 pounder, played in 55 games with 52 starts and accumulated 217 total tackles, 36 sacks, one interception, nine passes defensed, 10 forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He has played in nine postseason games with eight starts, tallying  18 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.

From the Patriots perspective, this trade emulates the Bill Belichick formula. As a result of trading Jones, it clears roughly $7 million in cap room for New England. Having traded Jones supports the notion that the Patriots believe players like Geno Grissom and Trey Flowers can make a significant impact. Both were draft picks in the 2015 draft and will be looking to take the second year leap. Belichick believes the second year leap is one of the most pivotal moments in a young players career.

The compensation New England received for Jones is also beneficiary. Cooper was the 7th overall pick in the 2013 draft coming out of UNC (North Carolina Chapel Hill). In his three seasons with the Cardinals, Cooper has yet to fulfill his true potential. A change of scenery could be the necessary catalyst in propelling him to regain control of his career and reach that potential. After the AFC championship game, it was evident New England needed to bolster that position on their offensive line.

Cooper, a former top 10 talent, could be a key cog in restoring an area of New England’s team that was a strength in the past. Lastly, in a year where the Patriots were stripped of their 1st round pick, gaining a second round pick negates a portion of that effect. New England now has a selection in the first 61 picks of this years draft and could implement that selection for Jones successor in a year in which the defensive line is considered a strength of the draft class.

Source: ESPN Stats, Patriots.com

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