May 25, 2024

Cardinals to sign WR who commanded extensive interest

Jones also met with the Titans, Cowboys and Chiefs this week, setting up an interesting mid-offseason derby for a player who worked as a two-season starter in Jacksonville. Jones will now team with Marvin Harrison Jr. in Arizona.

The Cardinals received the second visit on a Jones tour that covered three time zones. The Titans appeared to take themselves out of the running early, reaching a deal with
Tyler Boyd. Of the remaining three teams, the Cardinals appeared to feature the biggest need. Although Harrison is set to anchor Arizona’s receiving corps in Kyler Murray‘s sixth season, Jones will bring considerable experience to an equation that features questions behind the No. 4 overall pick.

A few veteran wide receivers have departed Arizona in recent years. A.J. Green retired after the 2022 season; soon after, the Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins. This offseason, the Cards let Marquise Brown walk (to the Chiefs) in free agency and traded slot target Rondale Moore
to the Falcons. The Brown and Moore exits left the likes of Michael Wilson and Greg Dortch as the top Cards holdover receivers. The past few weeks have changed that outlook.

The Jaguars released Jones shortly after their WR plan came to fruition during the draft’s first night. Nineteen picks after Harrison became this year’s first wideout drafted, Brian Thomas Jr. was the fourth. The LSU product being ticketed for Jacksonville led to the team removing Jones’ $8M-per-year deal from its payroll. Jones, 29, will soon begin work for a fourth NFL team. The Bills drafted Jones in the 2017 second round but traded him to the Raiders during the 2019 season. The Jags signed both Jones and Christian Kirk during the 2022 offseason.

Jones’ Jags tenure featured a good start and an underwhelming second chapter. The 6-foot-2 target proved some skeptics wrong by amassing a career-high 823 receiving yards to go with five touchdowns in 2022, helping the Jags to the playoffs. He became Trevor Lawrence‘s leading target in the postseason, totaling 13 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. This included a 39-yard score in the Jaguars’ 27-point comeback win over the Chargers and 83 yards in a narrow divisional-round loss to the Chiefs. Last season, however, Jones battled PCL and femur injuries, missing eight games and totaling 321 yards.

Working as an outside receiver in Jacksonville’s offense, Jones did boost Calvin Ridley, whose three 100-yard receiving efforts came with the 200-pound starter on the field. The East Carolina alum’s down 2023 also included a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in November. That will put Jones at risk of a suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The Cardinals clearly feel comfortable with Jones’ status to complete this signing.

Rebuffing trade interest for the No. 4 slot, the Cardinals were intent on upgrading Murray’s receiving corps. They will see if Jones can become a reliable supporting-caster to start Harrison’s career.