It made sense for the Cardinals to get something f

first_imgIt made sense for the Cardinals to get something for Cooper, but it’s not an ideal situation for Arizona to deal away two potentially valuable pieces for what could be a very short-term gain. Eventually, you’d like to see the Cardinals emulate the Patriots’ NFL model, where there is so much talent being harvested every year that big-name players become expendable before they have diminished and while they still have excellent value. You’d like to see pass rushers developed from within, but Keim and coach Bruce Arians have only been on the job three-plus years. Foxborough wasn’t built in a day.If they’re being truly introspective, however, Keim and his staff will examine the trade from the Patriots’ perspective and understand that New England’s view is ultimately where they want to be — remaining a present-day Super Bowl contender while planning for contention down the road.The Cardinals have one half of that difficult equation in place, but the other half is even harder to build.Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter TEMPE, Ariz. — NFL trades are as rare as Larry Fitzgerald’s dropped passes, but in his three-plus seasons as Cardinals general manager, Steve Keim has gone that route to land what are arguably the two most difficult pieces to secure: an elite starting quarterback and an elite pass rusher.The Cardinals and Patriots sent shock waves through the league Tuesday afternoon when Arizona sent 2013 first-round pick (7th overall) Jonathan Cooper and this year’s second-round pick (61st overall) to New England for defensive end/linebacker Chandler Jones. The trade will become official when both players pass their physicals. Comments   Share   The trade is fraught with risk for both teams, but in examining the deal, the Patriots’ and Cardinals’ present-day philosophies are laid bare. One was about the long term; one was about the short term.Jones, 26, was due to earn $7.799 million as part of the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, but it was his impending free agency that had the Patriots most concerned. Olivier Vernon just signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Giants, with $52.5 million in guaranteed money. Vernon has 29 sacks in 64 games; Jones has 36 sacks in 55 games.New England knew it would feel a cap crunch next season when cornerback Malcolm Butler (restricted), linebacker Jamie Collins, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, Jones, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, cornerback Logan Ryan, defensive end Jabaal Sheard and tackle Sebastian Vollmer are due to become free agents. Jones was going to command the most of the group on the open market.Replacing Jones’ production will be difficult, but when you’ve won 12 division titles in 13 years and four Super Bowls in 15 years, you get a hall pass in such matters. New England believes it has a stable of young talent ready to replace Jones and the Pats’ lengthy run of success suggests their thinking is sound. When they assessed Jones’ likely asking price in free agency, they decided he wouldn’t be worth that kind of money to a franchise with depth, and one faced with significant cap constraints. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Top Stories Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling If Jones departs in free agency (the Cardinals could use the franchise tag to keep him an additional season), Cooper pans out with New England and the Cards don’t win a Super Bowl, the move will be deemed a failure, but what risk did the Cardinals really take in moving Cooper? During the offseason, there was discussion about moving him from guard to center. When you’re talking about moving a player to another position, that’s rarely a good sign.If the Patriots do help Cooper blossom into a star it’s fair to question why it didn’t happen with the Cards. Was his development poorly managed? Were there personality conflicts?A good and objective organization will remove the emotion from such analysis and examine its process to determine if there were any flaws that need fixing. Was the flaw purely that of the player, or did the franchise have some hand in what can only be deemed a draft-day mistake?Whatever conclusions are reached, it doesn’t change the reality that Cooper was a lost cause that hadn’t yet been admitted because to admit blowing the seventh overall pick is big mistake to admit. Missing on first-round picks is always costly, but it’s accentuated by the intense media and fan scrutiny that executives face — scrutiny that ignores the reality that the NFL Draft always has been and always will be educated guesswork where mistakes are built into the equation. New England is gambling that it can turn Cooper into the offensive line force he never became with Arizona, and again, New England’s track record here is strong. New England must decide by May 3 whether to exercise Cooper’s 2017 option for $11.902 million, but even if that acquisition doesn’t pan out for their future, the Patriots also got a second-round pick from Arizona as insurance.That doesn’t mean the Cardinals were swindled. One side of this trade was about the future and Jones’ likely enormous contract demands; the other side was about the now and Arizona’s narrow window of opportunity.The Cardinals identified a pass rusher as their top offseason need immediately after reaching the 2015 NFC Championship Game. Arizona ranked 20th in the NFL with 36 sacks and that deficiency was exposed in the playoffs.Keim was unable to land a pass rusher in free agency and the Cardinals’ first-round draft position (29th overall) made Keim skeptical he could find the necessary and immediate help at next month’s draft in Chicago. Jones (6-feet-5, 265 pounds) clearly fills that need.With Carson Palmer, 36, nearing the end of his NFL career, Arizona knows it’s chances of winning a Super Bowl are best while he is still productive, so Keim did what was necessary to chase that elusive prize.last_img

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