Coming from behind on an injury hit NFL season, how is the situation with Chandler Jones’ contract in 2021? Let’s look at the structure of Jones’ contract, his impact on Arizona Cardinals’ pay cap, and what opportunities the Cardinals could have with Jones.
Chandler Jones’ contract information and bonuses
Having had it non-exclusive franchise tag placed on him in 2017 by the Cardinals, Jones signed a five-year, $ 82.5 million contract. The contract included $ 31 million fully guaranteed at the time of signing, including a $ 15 million signing bonus. An additional $ 15 million was guaranteed at the start of the NFL League 2018. And the final $ 5 million was guaranteed ahead of the 2019 league year.
The Cardinals restructured Jones’ contract in September 2019 by converting $ 7 million in base salary into a signature bonus, saving $ 4.67 million against the ceiling in 2019.
Jones has one year left on his contract
When Jones signed his five-year deal in 2017, that means 2021 will be the last year of Jones’ contract. However, none of Jones’ salary in 2021 is guaranteed, meaning he could lose $ 15.5 million in salary if released before the season.
What impact does Jones ‘deal have on the Cardinals’ salary cap?
Jones’ contract will have a salary cap of $ 20.8 million in 2021. Of that, $ 15.5 million is his base salary with $ 3 million in proportionally signed bonus and $ 2.3 million in proportional money from the 2019 restructuring. The Cardinals could save $ 15.5 million of that if they release Jones ahead of the season.
What options does the Cardinals have with Jones’ contract?
The Cardinals must have known that there would be some question marks surrounding Jones and his contract in 2021. After all, they committed to JJ Watt for two years to $ 14 million a year in the low season. This money could easily have been used to extend Jones to enter the final year of his deal. Nevertheless, there are a handful of reasons why the Cardinals chose to prioritize acquiring Watt instead of expanding Jones.
The Cardinals must challenge immediately
The third season of the combination of Cliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray is likely crucial for more people. Murray has shown glimpses, but Kingsbury has been criticized, as has the Cardinals’ front office for hiring him out of nowhere. Thus, the cardinals must have a level of success by 2021.
If they do not, we can see changes in both the head coach and general manager of the Cardinals. That’s one of the reasons why acquiring Watt for the 2021 season was more important than worrying about Jones’ contract.
Jones had an injury-hitting 2020 season
At the age of 30, the 2020 season was a bad time for Jones to miss his first game since 2015. Now 31, Jones would have been considered a risky player to extend this previous offseason.
Despite registering double-digit sacks in the previous five years, Jones is now assessing some of the recent damage. The questions remain: Can he jump back, and can one trust him for the next two or three years? These question marks will all have played into the concern the Cardinals have had when considering extending Jones’ contract in 2021.