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Jarvis Jones Signing Adds Linebacker Depth

Posted Mar 14, 2017

With Okafor going to Saints, former first-round pick helps roster behind Jones, Golden

The Cardinals added linebacker Jarvis Jones, here signing his contract with team president Michael Bidwill, after losing Alex Okafor in free agency.

After Chandler Jones got a giant contract extension, the Cardinals knew who their starting outside linebackers will be in Jones and Markus Golden.

Finding depth behind them became important, but the Cards were able to do that Tuesday.

After the Cardinals lost out on bringing Alex Okafor back – Okafor signed a one-year deal with the Saints earlier in the day – they filled the void with former Steelers first-round pick Jarvis Jones signing a one-year contract.

It didn’t hurt that Jarvis Jones had connections to key defensive coaches, having played with inside linebacker coach Larry Foote on the Steelers and having a close relationship with defensive line coach Brentson Buckner – the two attended the same high school and Buckner has been Jones’ mentor since Jones was 14.

Hearing Buckner’s analysis of how Jones could do with the Cardinals helped provide Jones with the reason not to head out on any more free-agent trips – including one scheduled in Los Angeles with the Rams.

“After sitting down and watching film with coach Buckner and having him tell me the things he could see me doing here, the progression on my game and how he can help me become a better player, that’s what I feel I need right now,” Jones said.

Jones, chosen 17th overall in the 2013 draft, has only six sacks in his four seasons, starting 35 of his 50 career games. But he is coming off his best statistical season – 42 tackles, an interception and two forced fumbles in 14 games – and the Cardinals have a need for another edge rusher. He has also be solid against the run, according to Pro Football Focus.

The other outside linebackers on the roster are Kareem Martin and former practice squad player Cap Capi.

The Cardinals had a package last year with Chandler Jones, Golden, Okafor and defensive tackle Calais Campbell as four down-linemen in pass-rush situations, something Jarvis Jones could fit within. He said he can do the things Chandler Jones and Golden do, and is comfortable dropping into coverage if needed.

“I think (the Cardinals) do a great job of that, getting the athletes on the field,” Jarvis Jones said.

The defense continues to morph in free agency. At this point the Cardinals have added Jones, safety Antoine Bethea and linebacker Karlos Dansby. The defense has lost Okafor, Campbell, safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger and cornerback Marcus Cooper.

Linebacker Kevin Minter is also expected to leave as a free agent, having visited Indianapolis and reportedly scheduling a visit with Cincinnati.

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