Even after being traded from the New England Patriots, Chandler Jones doesn’t hold any grudges towards his former team or former coach Bill Belichick.
As much as the New England Patriots are known for their offensive mastermind in Tom Brady, the team’s main identity over the majority of the past 20 years has been defined by defense — as Bill Belichick is a defensive mastermind and innovator the likes of which the NFL has never seen before.
Over the last two decades or so, the Patriots have drafted some of the best defensive players in the NFL and in their team’s history. Some of those players include Willie McGinest, Teddy Bruschi, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty, and Dont’a Hightower.
Even though he was traded, Chandler Jones — New England’s 21st overall draft selection in 2012 — still deserves to be included in the conversation of being one of the greatest defensive players the Patriots have ever drafted.
The Patriots have a lengthy track record of trading or cutting their players for various reasons, but it’s always for the betterment of the team. That’s something Chandler Jones understood when the Pats traded him to the Arizona Cardinals in 2016.
Here’s some of what he told The Athletic’s Jeff Howe in a recent interview:
"“When I spoke to Bill (Belichick) when I got traded, he told me it was best for the team; this was the best decision for our team. At the time, I didn’t understand. That next year, they won the Super Bowl, so I did understand that was best for the team — saved money, and they actually went and won. There were no hard feelings at all. I understood it’s a business and it was what was best for the team.”"
It’s worth mentioning that in return for Jones, the Patriots received Jonathan Cooper and a second round draft pick — which the Patriots turned into Malcolm Mitchell and Joe Thuney. Mitchell turned out to be one of the better receivers ever drafted by Belichick, and Thuney has become the best offensive guard in the NFL.
Since being traded in 2016, Jones himself has gone on to become one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. In just four seasons with the Cardinals, he has 60 sacks (4th in NFL) and 98 quarterback hits.
The New England Patriots won a Super Bowl with Chandler Jones and have gone on to win two Super Bowls since trading him. It makes you wonder what the Patriots defense could have looked like with a player who evolved into one of the best defensive players in the league.