We know Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden loves his veteran quarterbacks, he also has a penchant for going after players he’s coveted in the past. Now one of them is available.
Gruden has been quoted as seeking his “alpha” veteran players to lead his younger position players in the right direction. While that reference was intended for cornerback Richard Sherman, the theory is still viable. Veteran star wide receiver and seven-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones may be available and fans of the Silver and Black should expect their coach to go after him.
The Raiders have been lacking an elite receiver for many years. This is not exclusive to Gruden’s three years since his return. Let’s take a look at his track record recently; Amari Cooper was surprisingly traded in the middle of Gruden’s first season back. He also signed Green Bay Packers star Jordy Nelson who was past his prime. Then, Tyrell Williams spent more time injured than on the field after a promising start. Let’s not even go into the high-risk trade for Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who essentially imploded before the regular season could begin.
It hasn’t been all bad for the Raiders head coach
One positive though, Philadelphia Eagles castoff Nelson Agholor had a breakout season in 2020. Funny enough, his lone success at wide receiver wasn’t retained, he was scooped by the New England Patriots. The point is, Gruden has been desperately searching for an elite leader on every level (offense, defense, and special teams) and he finally may have a chance to land one that’s already a proven success.
The Atlanta Falcons front office has confirmed that certain players may be moved due to their current cap situation. Jones has had a 1,000+ yard season every year since 2014, with the 2020 season being the outlier due to several missed games from an injury. The six-foot-three 220 pound pass-catcher has become the gold standard when discussing the wide receiver position in the NFL. Though Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and DeAndre Hopkins might be more popular, no one can argue that a healthy Jones is unstoppable (except for D-Hop apparently).
Would the Raiders actually pull the trigger?
I can see several of you reading this already thinking about one player; Khalil Mack. A future Pro Football Hall of Famer that was shipped off for a couple of first-round picks.
So why would Gruden and Mike Mayock, who both greatly value draft picks, hand over draft capital for a veteran? Well, maybe because Gruden values both history and Raiders of the past. Jones is the all-time Falcons receiving yards record holder with 12,896 yards. This would put him just below Raiders legend Tim Brown who tops the list at 14,734 yards for the Silver and Black. If Gruden can land a player on par with Brown’s exploits, how could he say no?
A receiving corps of John Brown, Willie Snead, Hunter Renfrow, and second-year players, Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, doesn’t exactly strike fear into anyone. If healthy, Jones could be the offensive alpha that has so far, eluded Gruden.
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*Top Photo: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports