Despite being one of the best pass rushers of the past decade, Cardinals edge Chandler Jones is still fairly underrated by the general public. Not by the Seahawks and not by Russell Wilson, however. In fact, they've perhaps become too familiar with him over the years.
But they may be able to breathe a sigh of relief soon. Per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Jones requested a trade from Arizona at some point in the offseason, citing his unhappiness with his current contract—which expires at the end of the 2021 season—and what that could entail for his future in the desert. The Cardinals reportedly have no intentions of trading him and expect him to report to training camp this week.
After suffering a season-ending biceps injury last year, Jones ideally wants more job and financial security at the age of 31. Another significant injury could derail his free agent market next offseason, and possibly his career. And while he's set to make a solid chunk of change at $16.5 million this season, he's seen quite a few pass rushers with less successful track records leapfrog him in annual salary, finding himself outside the top-10 of the highest-paid edges.
To a man who's led the NFL in sacks since entering the league in 2012 with 97.0, this is unacceptable. Aside from his injury-shortened season last year, Jones has never posted less than 11.0 sacks and 42 pressures in a campaign since joining the Cardinals in 2014. In all, he's put up a whopping 61.0 sacks on 269 pressures while donning the red, white and black. And of his 97.0 career sacks, 13.5 of them have come against Wilson and the Seahawks.
Though it hasn't necessarily been a strong suit of theirs under coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals have become a respectable member of the defensive gauntlet that is the NFC West—especially with the return of Jones and the arrival of future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt. But if Jones is traded, paired with the free agent loss of longtime starting cornerback Patrick Peterson, the rest of the division could sleep a lot easier.
All that remains to be seen is the level of interest other teams have in trading for a 31-year old pass rusher who, despite his accomplishments, is coming off a serious injury and will want a hefty extension that sees him make an upwards of $20 million per season. This late in the offseason, not many teams are capable of taking on such a commitment.
And if there is interest, there's still no guarantee the Cardinals become motivated to deal Jones. After all, they're in win-now mode while their star quarterback, Kyler Murray, is still on his rookie contract. Jones helps them more now than letting him walk in free agency does later, though that could change if he continues to force the issue.
That's certainly what Seattle is hoping for. While its competitive side would miss the challenge Jones presents, his absence from the Cardinals' defensive line would greatly boost the Seahawks' chances of taking two highly-important divisional matchups in 2021. And Wilson may find himself on his backside a little less on Sundays.