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Cards hope Jones will boost offense

ORLANDO -- The tight end market, which began to heat up on Sunday evening,
continued to be an area of free-agent action on Monday as the
Arizona Cardinals landed standout Freddie Jones.

Released by the San Diego Chargers nearly three weeks ago for salary cap
reasons, and because of what some observers regarded as a personality
conflict with general manager John Butler, the five-year veteran was
arguably the most talented tight end still available. Some would argue that
former Indianapolis Colts starter Ken Dilger is his equal, but Jones is the superior athlete.

Jones, 27, will sign a three-year contract worth $5.1 million and including
a signing bonus of $1.25 million.

Tight end has long been a problem area for the Cardinals and coach Dave
McGinnis allowed on Monday that the acquisition of Jones is a major addition
for his offense.

"There aren't many (tight ends) who move like he does," McGinnis said. "He
can get up the field and he's a big target. The guy really is a heck of an
athlete."

Jones, indeed, is regarded as one of the best pure receivers among the tight
ends in the league. He does not always run hard after the catch, though, or
use his size to his advantage. And while he is a willing blocker, the
results sometimes leave a bit to be desired. That said, he is a bargain for
the Cardinals, who got him at a reasonable number in a sluggish market.

In his Chargers tenure, Jones caught 260 passes for 2,931 yards and 16
touchdowns. The team's second-round choice in the 1997 draft, the former
North Carolina star posted 71 catches in 2000 but struggled with injuries
last season. He had just 35 catches in 2001.

For his career, Jones has played in 75 games and started 65 of them.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.