Raiders GM Dave Ziegler, Davante Adams, and Chandler Jones, ESPN

Raiders: PFF Reveals Chandler Jones Signing As Massive Misstep By GM Dave Ziegler

The Las Vegas Raiders swung for the fences last offseason by acquiring two of the best players at their respective positions—at least at the time. The first half of the equation is Davante Adams. He earned All-Pro honors in his first season in Vegas. Unfortunately for general manager Dave Ziegler, Chandler Jones did not fare quite as well.

Raiders GM Dave Ziegler Immediately Makes His Mark

While Jones noticeably looked a step slower on the field in 2022, the numbers paint an even grimmer picture. The former Syracuse standout, and brother of UFC star Jon Jones, received heavy fanfare as he entered the 2012 NFL Draft. The Patriots eventually selected the star pass rusher 21st overall.

With New England, Jones immediately cemented his status as a top-tier sack artist. He recorded 39 sacks throughout his four-year rookie deal. When the time came to pay the man, the Patriots did what they do best by flipping him for a player and high-end day two draft selection.

Typically, Bill Belichick is one step ahead of the league when cutting a player loose before his decline begins. This particular decision proved to be an epic fail by the legendary head coach, with the best days still firmly in front of Jones. In his five full seasons with Arizona, the 6-foot-5 specimen posted double-digit sacks each campaign, including a career-high 19 in 2019.

Following the 2021 season, fresh off an 11-sack performance, Jones entered free agency as one of the top players available. Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels wasted little time bringing in a familiar face.

News: Raiders WR Davante Adams To Josh Jacobs During Contract Saga: “You Do What You Gotta Do”

McDaniels And Ziegler Reunite With Chandler Jones

The trio spent multiple seasons together in New England, making for an easy link on the open market. The thought was: Maxx Crosby is already elite, but adding a veteran pass rusher opposite him could unlock another level. As you would have it, Crosby had a career year in 2022.

However, as impactful as Jones’ presence was, his signing still goes down as a massive misstep by Ziegler. The 33-year-old only brought down the quarterback five times last season, his lowest total in any season with more than five games played. PFF’s numbers are even more damning.

PFF Stats Show That Jones Is Not What He Once Was

Excluding the injury-filled 2020 campaign, Jones has never had worse defensive, pass-rushing, or tackling grades in his career. Going further, his run-defense grade was below average for most of his inaugural season in Vegas.

The eye test backs up these alarming numbers. Often, Jones was slow off the snap, something he rarely put on tape before 2022. He has never been an elite run defender, but thanks to his uninspired effort as a tackler, Jones became a liability in this regard.

News: Josh Jacobs, Raiders Have Potential To “Do Something Special Together,” Says Davante Adams On Dan Patrick Show

Can Tyree Wilson Be The Long-Term Replacement For Jones In Vegas?

The Raiders drafted the veteran’s potential replacement at this year’s NFL Draft. Texas Tech star Tyree Wilson came off the board at No. 7 overall, but he is as raw as sashimi. On top of that, Wilson is dealing with a nagging foot injury, which placed him on the NFI list to open training camp.

The fact Wilson is unable to have a “regular” rookie offseason likely kept Jones off the hot seat. Not to mention the exorbitant dead cap charge the team would take on by releasing him. But if the 23-year-old gets healthy and shows he is worth the hype, that could spell the end of Jones’ Raider tenure after the season. What options would Vegas have if they decide to cut bait?

Options For The Raiders If Jones Fails To Bounce Back

If Ziegler decides to release the aging star next offseason, the Raiders free themselves of a $20.6 million cap hit. In turn, they would take a $12.2 million dead cap charge. All in all, this move would result in an extra $8.4 million toward the 2024 salary cap.

Maybe Jones can turn back the clock in Year 12. If so, I will happily eat my words. He is fighting against Father Time, though — a foe with a more sparkling record than Floyd Mayweather Jr. himself. I’m rooting for the borderline Hall of Famer, but it would take an unprecedented resurgence to save Chandler Jones from the chopping block next offseason.

*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal

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