Cardinals will use franchise tag to lock up Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones celebrates

The Arizona Cardinals aren’t going to let pass rusher Chandler Jones hit the free-agency market this March.

In order to ensure he remains with the club, Jones will be slapped with the franchise tag while the team attempts to work out a long-term deal, team president Michael Bidwill confirmed.

“We’re not going to mess around with that,” Bidwill said on the ‘Doug and Wolf’ show on Arizona Sports 98.7 (h/t team website). “He’s a great pass rusher, but if we can’t agree to terms that work for us, we’re just going to franchise him. His people know that.”

If a long-term deal isn’t worked out and the franchise tag sticks, then Jones stands to make roughly $14.75 million in 2017, per Joel Corry of CBS Sports.

Jones was traded from the New England Patriots to Arizona before last season, and he had a fine campaign for the Cardinals. Racking up 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and 49 total tackles, he was an impact player who is still young enough (he’ll be 27 when the 2017 season begins) to make a difference in the long term.

Elite pass rushers aren’t cheap, so the Cardinals will have to come up with some strong compensation and big guaranteed money for Jones to sign a long-term deal. Arizona is in decent shape as it pertains to cap space heading into 2017, so a deal can certainly be struck. The other big-time player who is in line to get paid this offseason is fellow defender Calais Campbell, who is still among the elite when it comes to interior linemen around the league.

Keeping both of these players would be ideal for the Cardinals, who still have high expectations despite a trying 2016 campaign that saw them finish with a record of 7-8-1.