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Arizona Cardinals star Chandler Jones holding out amid trade rumors

Vincent Frank

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After adding three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt in free agency, the Arizona Cardinals thought they had an elite pass-rush duo with Watt and Chandler Jones.

That might not be the case heading into the 2021 season. Jones, 31, is about to enter the final year of his contract and is set to count $20.83 million against the cap. The two-time All-Pro wants a new deal. Meanwhile, Arizona might not want to pay that cap figure for the elite edge rusher.

All of this has created a rift between Jones and the Cardinals, leading to the veteran opting to hold out of mandatory minicamp this week.

“We’ve been in communication with both guys, we know the situations and I’ll leave that dialogue between us,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday regarding both Jones and linebacker Jordan Hicks, via the Cardinals’ official website. “Nothing else to report on that.”

Jones’ decision to hold out of mandatory minicamp won’t only cost him money, it will lead to speculation that the Arizona Cardinals’ star defender will either be traded or released.

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Can the Arizona Cardinals trade Chandler Jones?

Arizona Cardinals, Chandler Jones
Sep 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) against the Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike the Julio Jones situation with the Atlanta Falcons prior to him being shipped off to the Tennessee Titans, Arizona would save a ton of cash if it were to trade Jones. That number comes in at $15.5 million. Unfortunately, this is also the same number an acquiring team would take on when it comes to a cap hit.

At this point in the offseason, only 12 teams around the NFL have that type of cap room. The likeliest scenario here is Jones agreeing to an extension prior to a trade, lowering his 2021 camp number in the process.

Prior to missing all but five games this past season to a biceps injury, Jones was among the best pass rushers in the NFL. Since the Arizona Cardinals acquired him in a blockbuster trade with the New England Patriots back in 2016, he’s recorded 101 quarterback hits to go with a league-high 61 sacks. He’ll have interest on the trade market should it come to that.