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The New England Patriots have started planning for their future, and they made a big decision on Tuesday afternoon by shipping starting defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for former #7 overall pick Jonathan Cooper and a 2016 second round draft pick.
Heading into this offseason the Patriots had the big four defensive free agents after the 2016 NFL season to decide if they would resign them or let them hit free agency. The four are Jones, Donta Hightower, Jamie Collins and Malcolm Butler. It became evidently clear that Jones may not be signed by the Patriots after this years crop of defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Malik Jackson signed five-year deals worth $85 and 85.5 million respectively. The Patriots just do not sign players to that kind of money.
In trading Jones, the Patriots will gain roughly $5.5 million in cap space. Cooper can play all three interior line positions but after breaking his leg in his rookie year he has never lived up to his draft status. The Patriots will hope they can turn around Cooper’s career. Cooper has a fifth-year option of just north of $11 million that needs to be picked up by May 3rd or he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Patriots could pick the option up and see how things play out. The option does not become fully guaranteed until the new league year starts in 2017. So the team could pick up the option and if Copper doesn’t work out cut him before the start of free agency next year.
The Patriots also will now have two picks in the second round of the 2016 draft. The Pats have a total of 11 picks in the upcoming draft. The draft picks are as follows; Second round, 60th overall, Second round 61st overall, Third round, 91st overall Third round, 96th overall Fourth round, 127th overall Sixth round, TBA Sixth round, 208th overall Sixth round, 214th overall Sixth round, 221st overall Seventh round, TBA Seventh round, TBA.
It is now a good bet the Patriots will be attempting to resign Hightower, Collins, and Butler. The Patriots will most likely try and resign Jabaal Sheard who is entering the final year of his contract. The trade of Jones could also open the door for former Rams defensive end Chris Long to sign with the Pats. Long was in for a visit on Monday and has said he wants to play for a contender.