The most conspicuous salary cap elephant in the room this off-season for the Arizona Cardinals has been Chandler Jones’ $20.83M, which is essentially 1/9th of the team’s entire 2021 cap. Only $5.3M of Jones’ cap figure is guaranteed, which means that if the Cardinals were to trade or release Jones, they could add $15.5M in cap space.
Over the past week to ten days, the Cardinals have received some much needed help in adding cap space because Justin Pugh and Jordan Hicks agreed to salary cuts and Rodney Hudson agreed to accept an $8.8M signing bonus which pairs the last two years on his deal with voidable years, so as to reduce his cap hit this year to $2.8M.
When Justin Pugh agreed to take close to a $5M pay cut, he tweeted out that he loves it in Arizona, that he wants to spend the rest of his career with the Cardinals and added, “now let’s go win a ring.” Pugh’s willingness to help the team is most generous because he is coming off what GM Steve Keim said “his best season as a Cardinal.” With a PFF grade of 64.8 (the highest by far for the Cardinals’ interior linemen) and outstanding pass blocking grade of 74.4 (he gave up only 1 sack and 15 QB pressures all season, made even more impressive by the fact that twice a season he has to block Aaron Donald, and did so in 2020 without surrounding a sack —- which practically in itself should warrant Pugh’s full salary).
To clarify I restructured my contract and took a pay cut to stay with the @AZCardinals. I love Arizona and want to finish my career here. Now let’s go win a ring.— Justin Pugh (@JustinPugh) March 23, 2021
In Jordan Hicks’ case, he is coming off his worst season as a Cardinal (50.4 PFF with RDEF grade of 40.4, down from 61.0 and 69.1 in 2019). Thus, his willingness to take a $3M pay cut reflects his desire to remain with the team and an acknowledgement that he needs to have a good, strong bounce-back season if he is going to remain in Arizona beyond 2021.
But, Chandler Jones is also coming off his worst season as a Cardinal. Jones recorded only 1 sack and 10 QB pressures, rushing some games versus 2nd string tackles. Plus, in 4 1⁄2 games he only registered 8 tackles, while missing 3 tackles (56.7 RDEF, 29.0 TACK). His pass rushing grade which was 90.0 in 2019 took a significant dip to 63.1.
Obviously, the Cardinals have been asking a number of their higher paid veterans to take pay cuts in order to help the team put the finishing touches on a roster that is beginning to look stunningly championship-worthy. This recent tweet appears to tell us precisely what Jones’ reaction was to being asked to take a pay cut:
Many people will benefit from your lack of self worth. When you start to level up in this life, it’s essential to cut off anything toxic/unsupportive to your growth. Being selfish during certain seasons of your life is essential. Prioritize thyself— ♛Chandler Jones (@chanjones55) March 29, 2021
What do you make of Chandler’s tweet?
If Chandler is referring to not taking a pay cut, then would you be upset if the Cardinals attempted to trade him in order to get value in return and to add $15.5M in free cap space?
For example, if you knew the Cardinals could get some value in return in a trade and then be able to sign SAM OLB Jadeveon Clowney, DT DaQuan Jones and CB Steven Nelson with the $15.5M, would you make the trade?