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Justin Jones is new to Arizona, not to his Cardinals teammates

The decision to sign defensive tackle Justin Jones to a deal worth $30.1 million over three seasons serves to define the Arizona Cardinals’ offseason.

If 2023 marked a year of rebuilding, the 2024 campaign consisted of delivering the roster to a minimum and filling the gaps with reasonable and reliable players. A series of signings on the defensive line were all about adding solid contributors. The volume of signings was as important as the value of the contracts.

But so has incorporating the right types of personalities to build a cultural identity. Jones was one of the first players to sign, but he already had connections to Arizona.

“The guys they have here, the guys they brought in, you know Bilal (Nichols), but playing with Budda (Baker), playing with (Kyzir) White,” was attractive to Jones, he said. Lobo and Luke from Arizona Sports on Tuesday.

“I played with K-White, they drafted us together. This is my dog. Same draft class (2018) with the Chargers. Playing with KT (Kyiris Tonga). I played with KT in Chicago. Being able to play with all these guys that I already know and have a relationship with, it’s like you come to a place where you know you have family.”

Jones brings the most production of the new defensive linemen, racking up 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks from the interior last year. He racked up 18 tackles for loss over the past two years in Chicago after a four-year run to begin his career with the Chargers.

The 309-pound tackle is just 27 years old and has appeared in 17 games in each of the last two seasons.

His path is almost identical to that of Nichols, also 27, who fulfilled his rookie contract in four years with the Bears from 2018 to 2021. Nichols then spent the last two years with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Nichols, a 314-pound interior lineman, also didn’t miss a regular-season game his last two seasons.

They project to give Arizona volume in the top seven.

Jones, for what it’s worth, likes to play even-front schemes as a 3-technique.

“I like to put my hand in the dirt. I like knowing that, hey hey, I’m responsible for that B gap and I know that if I turn that ball over, whoever comes up to block me, I’ll be knocking them back 5 to 10 yards (back),” Jones said. “I know that if this guard comes to get me, I will put my helmet on… I will try to dent his mask. “I’m coming in with heavy hands, I’m trying to block it, make a play in the backfield, TFL, I’m trying to make plays.”