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Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

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Chandler Jones is the first player to draw the franchise tag this offseason.

As coach Bruce Arians suggested in early January, the Cardinals have prevented the star outside linebacker from reaching the open market, announcing the application of the tag on Monday.

The two sides have until July 15 to negotiate a multi-year contract. If no agreement is reached, Jones will play under the linebacker tender worth roughly $14.129 million for 2017.

Acquired from the New England Patriots last March, Jones fulfilled lofty expectations as a dangerous pass rusher on James Bettcher's second-ranked total defense.

Jones tallied 11 sacks, 21 QB hits, 15 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles, per NFL Research. He and bookend edge rusher Markus Golden were not only the NFL's top sack duo (23.5) last season, but also became the first pair of Cardinals teammates with double-digit sacks apiece since Al Baker and Curtis Greer in 1984.

How productive has Jones been?

Over the last two years, only 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack (26.0) and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller (24.5) have more sacks than Jones' 23.5. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, Jones, Miller and J.J. Watt are the only players with at least 40 sacks and 60 QB hits.

Although keeping Jones is the top priority, the Cardinals still have work to do ahead of the new league year on March 9. Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Tony Jefferson are all due to reach the open market barring last-minute agreements with Arizona.

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