Before they traded Chandler Jones, the Patriots were in a situation where they had several young players all headed into contract year in 2016.
It was unlikely they'd be able to re-sign them all so it made sense to move at least one player and get something in return. Jones, a defensive end, was set to perhaps make the most money on his second contract because of the position he plays, and therefore it wasn't the surprise to end all surprises that the Patriots moved on from him when they did.
The team that ended up receiving Jones, though, was taken aback that Jones was available.
"I was shocked," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said at the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday morning. "[Cardinals general manager] Steve Keim did an unbelievable job working with them and finding the right fit in the trade. We went into the offseason wanting to improve our pass-rush. Free agency wasn’t what we were looking at as far as dollars for certain guys. [The Jones acquisition] cured us for a long time. They got something they needed. We got something we needed. I think it was a great trade for both sides."
The Patriots ended up getting a second-round pick -- a coveted asset in a year where they have no first-rounder due to the NFL-issued punishment for Deflategate -- and guard Jonathan Cooper in return.
There is a chance that Jones is simply a one-year rental for the Cardinals. He is in the final year of his rookie contract, and he could be in line for a big pay day on the open market next offseason. Fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon received a contract that included $54.5 million guaranteed from the Giants earlier this month.
But Arians isn't worried that his team will be able to retain Jones after this season.
"When he hits free agency," Arians said, "we'll have the dollars to make sure he stays."
Arizona ranked 20th in the NFL last season with 36.0 sacks. Jones recorded a career-high 12.5 sacks last season, helping him earn a spot as a Pro Bowler for the first time.