PHOENIX – Entering his sixth season, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips is trying to prove that last year wasn’t a one-off, that he is worth the three-year, $30 million contract he signed this offseason with the Arizona Cardinals.
After posting a career-high 9½ sacks for the Buffalo Bills last year, more than he had in the first four seasons of his career combined, Phillips heard the whispers about his productivity.
“A lot of people think it was some miracle or I was playing for a contract,” he said. “To say I had a one-year wonder from this past year is false. It was my first time in my career being in the third-down group. I had a lot more opportunity just to get more sacks and be more productive.”
With Phillips in the fold, defensive line help will not be a high priority for the Cardinals when the NFL Draft begins at 5 p.m. today.
Phillips began his career with the Miami Dolphins as a second-round draft pick (No. 52) out of Oklahoma. Despite big expectations that he would help improve a defense that ranked 20th in points allowed per game (23.3), Phillips was never able to get things going. During the 2018 season, he asked the Dolphins for his release.
“It wasn’t anything — and there were a lot of reports about the sideline outburst,” he said. “It just wasn’t true. We went to the Dolphins before training camp and asked for a release or trade.”
The Dolphins granted his wish by placing him on waivers after a Week Four game against the New England Patriots. That’s when the Bills picked him up.
“For me personally, I felt like that was the jump-start to my career,” Phillips said. “It felt like a fresh start, new team, new faces, new opportunities.”
Phillips played under current Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who held the same role with the Dolphins in 2016. Joseph’s presence should provide Phillips some familiarity with the system his new team runs, but when asked why he signed with the Cardinals rather than take the other offers he had this offseason, Phillips had a simpler answer.
“Chandler Jones was a big part of it,” he said. “I wanted an elite pass-rusher next to me to try to cause some havoc.”
Jones has 96 sacks in eight NFL seasons, and was recently named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade team.
“Selfishly, it’s going to take double-teams away from me and help me get free,” Phillips said. “When you have somebody like that who’s averaged over I think 15 sacks over the last three years, you don’t seem like a concern.”
Phillips can’t wait to get started.
“I was made for this; I was built for this,” he said when asked about his goals for the season. “Just to let everyone in Arizona know that they got the real deal, and the defense is going to get back to where it needs to be.”