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Cards GM on Jones trade: 'Pass rushers don't grow on trees'

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The Arizona Cardinals' trade of a second-round pick and Jonathan Cooper for Chandler Jones works in the long run only if the Cards can lock down the pass rusher long-term.

Speaking on Wednesday, Jones said he's not thinking about a new deal, with one year remaining on his rookie contract. General manager Steve Keim, sitting next to Jones, added he's confident a deal can be struck, even quipping they could do it right at the podium.

"If he's not worried about it, we can do it right now," Keim cracked, via the team's official website.

An expensive long-term extension is likely one reason the New England Patriots were willing to part with their leading sack artist. With Olivier Vernon -- a lesser-accomplished pass rusher -- earning $52 million guaranteed from the Giants this offseason, Jones is set to cash in next offseason.

The Cardinals knew entering the offseason that adding pass rushers was priority numero uno. Keim noted Wednesday that finding a Pro Bowl edge rusher is harder than giving that player a long-term deal.

"I have faith in our system," Keim said. "I have faith that he'll enjoy his time here and he'll have a tremendous amount of success. Listen, as I've said many times, pass rushers don't grow on trees. You have to put the resources into those guys.

"There are going to be a lot of pass rushers that go in this draft high, and some of them aren't going to pan out. So, to be able to acquire a guy for what we gave up, and I know what he is, you saw it on tape, you saw that he can produce at a high level, I think he's going to really produce in this defense."

Buried in Keim's quote is a note on the Cards' philosophy: valuing established players over crapshoot draft picks. Even if productive players on rookie contracts are the biggest bargain in sports, nothing beats knowing what you're getting in an athlete.

Year after year we see highly regarded college edge rushers enter the NFL and fail miserably. The Cardinals have no such worries about Jones. Now they just need to lock him up for the long haul.

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