Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In terms of Belichick blunders, Chandler Jones trade ranks close to Jimmy G

Alex Reimer
July 31, 2018 - 2:37 pm

Bill Belichick has been excoriated for not receiving more in return for Jimmy Garoppolo. But 1.5 years prior to dealing Jimmy G, the Patriots’ head coach pulled off an almost equally diastrous trade. 

In March 16, the Patriots shipped All-Pro defensive end Chandler Jones to the Cardinals in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and two draft picks (third- and fourth-rounder). Unlike the Garoppolo deal, the Jones trade made sense from a strategic standpoint. He was due to be a free agent the following year, and Belichick seemingly didn’t want to pay him big money. The Cardinals inked Jones to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in 2017, proving Belichick’s apparent projection to be right.

In addition, Jones was hospitalized six days before the Patriots’ Divisional Round playoff game against the Chiefs in 2016, due to a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana. The pass-rusher reportedly showed up to the Foxboro police station shirtless and got on his knees with his hands behind his head. 

With those facts in mind, there are stark differences about the circumstances surrounding both trades. Jettisoning Jones before his big pay day, and after a drug-induced screwup, falls in line with Belichick’s cold-blooded managerial style. That’s not the case with Jimmy G. It’s apparent that Belichick only dealt Garoppolo after orders from Robert Kraft, which may have been the reason Belichick reportedly only contacted the 49ers about his prized backup. As more information comes out, it can be argued the low return for Garoppolo was rooted in spite.

Early in the 2016 season, it seemed like the Patriots received a decent haul for Jones, even though Cooper didn’t play a single regular season game for New England. The two draft picks, receiver Malcolm Mitchell and guard Joe Thuney, turned into productive pieces. Thuney started on the offensive line during the Patriots’ Super Bowl run, and Mitchell caught six passes for 70 yards in Super Bowl LI. 

But things quickly went downhill for Mitchell, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. He’s currently nursing another knee injury, and appears to be at the bottom of the receiver depth chart. Thuney, meanwhile, underwent football surgery in May.

While the Cardinals paid Jones an incredible amount of cash, he’s earned it. He's recorded 28 sacks in two seasons with Arizona, including a league-leading 17 last year. In training camp, Jones has taken to destroying the tackling sled.

Jones isn’t the first explosive pass-rusher Belichick dealt away in his prime. The Hoodie also shipped Richard Seymour out of town in 2009, receiving a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. 

But the selection was spent on left tackle Nate Solder, a slightly better haul than Cooper-Mitchell-Thuney. 

Related Patriots content:

Despite strong start to camp, Cordarrelle Patterson critical of self

Reimer: By walking off, Tom Brady signals he's sick of it all