Arizona Cardinals General manager term this worst mistake ever

The NFL’s riskiest free agency signing by the Cardinals in 2024


Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) throws under pressure from Chicago Bears defensive tackle Justin Jones (93) during their football game Sunday, January 7, 2024, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers defeated the Bears 17-9.

Arizona, this was your riskiest signing

For both fans and observers, the NFL offseason is usually an exciting time as teams make crucial decisions that could impact the team’s future performance. The 2024 offseason has been very interesting for the Arizona Cardinals. Among a flurry of acquisitions, defensive lineman Justin Jones’s acquisition sticks out as both extremely contentious and possibly game-changing. The Cardinals could reach new heights with this signing as they want to bolster their defense and go deep into the playoffs. On the other hand, it may potentially turn into a warning story about risky bets gone wrong.

The Arizona Cardinals entered the NFL’s legal tampering period with a substantial $56.6 million in cap space. This was the fifth-highest in the league. However, they refrained from making any major splashes. Re-signing starting left guard Trystan Colon was a sensible, if unspectacular, move. Colon’s 69.2 Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade ranked him 18th among guards with at least 100 offensive snaps. The signing of defensive tackle Justin Jones, who will turn 28 on August 28, brings in an interesting player. He led the 2023 Chicago Bears in quarterback hits and tackles for loss. On paper, he should provide an affordable upgrade along the defensive line. The Cardinals continued to bolster their defense by adding linebacker Mack Wilson and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting. Murphy-Bunting posted a 62.4 passer rating when targeted. That ranked 17th among 71 players with at least 70 passes thrown their way.


Here we’ll look at the one player who is the Arizona Cardinals’ riskiest free agency move in the 2024 NFL offseason.

Jones, Justin
Justin Jones, who stands 6’3 and weighs 309 pounds, was the second defensive tackle the Cardinals reached an agreement with during the 2024 offseason. He came after DT Bilal Nichols, a former member of the Las Vegas Raiders and the Bears, inked a three-year deal.

Remember that Jones is coming off his greatest season as a professional and started every game for the Bears in the previous two seasons. He had 17 QB hits, 10 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in 2023. Jones is mostly a defensive lineman, but he has also played off the edge a lot.

Despite that, Jones received low marks from Pro Football Focus — 49.3 overall defensive grade, 47.4 run defense grade, and 52.5 pass rush grade.

A Standout?

Justin Jones does have a reputation as a talented player with a proven track record. His disruptive presence on the defensive line has been marked by moments of brilliance throughout his career. Known for his ability to penetrate the offensive line and pressure quarterbacks, Jones is an attractive addition to any defense. However, his inconsistent performance and history of injuries make him a risky investment for the Cardinals. Committing a substantial portion of their salary cap to secure Jones raises questions about the prudence of this decision.

Makes Sense?

Again, this deal might not make dollars and sense for the Cardinals. Sure, Jones has been solid over the last two years in Chicago and a decent starter for much of his career. However, it’s puzzling why a rebuilding Arizona team would invest heavily in a soon-to-be 28-year-old who may never be a game-changer.

Among 76 interior defenders who played at least 50 percent of their teams’ snaps in 2023, Jones ranked 67th with his Pro Football Focus grade. While not definitive, this statistic is telling, especially considering his lack of splash plays over his six-year career. The truth is that this likely won’t end well for the Cardinals.

Remember that Jones has only 12 sacks in his career. While he had one of his better years as a pass rusher in 2023, with 36 pressures and 4.5 sacks, he remains a liability against the run. This is concerning for a Cardinals team that ranked 27th in rush EPA and 31st in rush success rate in 2023.

Jones is a significant addition to Arizona’s pass rush room and will be placed in intriguing spots to generate pressure in Gannon’s defense. However, his contract includes the fourth-highest total guaranteed money among defensive tackles signed in free agency so far. That makes this a substantial gamble.


The Cardinals needed help along the defensive front and made a significant investment in free agency. There’s hope that these moves, particularly the signing of Jones, will help Arizona dominate the line of scrimmage moving forward. However, the pressure on Jones to perform will be immense. The high-profile nature of his signing and the substantial financial investment will place a spotlight on his every move. This heightened scrutiny can serve as both a motivator and a source of stress. If Jones thrives under this pressure, he could become a key piece in the Cardinals’ defensive resurgence. However, if he struggles to meet lofty expectations, the backlash from fans and media could be significant, further compounding the challenges for both Jones and the team.

Looking Ahead

One of the riskiest decisions made during the 2024 NFL offseason by the Arizona Cardinals was signing Justin Jones. Indeed, Jones has unquestionable talent and the capacity to transform the game. However, this is a high-stakes bet due to his inconsistent play and the financial consequences of his contract. The Cardinals are placing a lot of money on Jones’ ability to remain healthy and play at a high level, but there is little room for error. All eyes will be on Jones and the Cardinals defense as the season progresses, curious to see if this audacious decision will pay off or end up being a costly error. In 2024 and beyond, the Cardinals’ fate may be determined by the result of this gamble.

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