The Las Vegas Raiders signed defensive end Chandler Jones to a lucrative contract before the 2022 season. The idea of pairing Jones with defensive end Maxx Crosby seemed like a dream come true for the Raiders. The 33-year-old pass rusher, unfortunately, did not rise to the expected performance level.
So far, Jones has not graced the practice field at training camp in over ten days. Now that rookie Tyree Wilson has been cleared for action, could general manager Dave Ziegler really consider trading the former All-Pro? Or is the absence nothing more than Jones rehabbing from injury?
If the Raiders shop the 11-year pro, which teams make the most sense in a trade? To assess what the future holds for the franchise and its aging star, we must first look at how the two sides arrived at this point.
Jones Fails To Meet Double-Digit Sack Expectations In Vegas
Before Chandler Jones joined the Raiders, he spent six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Jones logged five successful seasons in the desert with double-digit sacks. He only failed to reach that number in 2020 when sustaining a biceps injury and landing on injured reserve. While the star pass rusher played in 15 games for the Silver and Black in 2022, he notched a mere 4.5 sacks.
Jones’ sack total does not paint the entire picture of his first season in Vegas. However, he hit career lows in tackles for loss (3), solo tackles (21), and combined tackles (38). These statistics do not mean he was a terrible defender in 2022. The issue is that Jones was ranked 89th in sacks last season while playing under a three-year contract worth $51 million.
The math simply does not add up with Jones ranking so low in sacks while being the eighth-highest-paid defensive end in the NFL.
Where Is Chandler? Anyone?
On Wednesday, Vic Tafur, senior writer from The Athletic, reported no update on Jones, who has not appeared at training camp for the better part of two weeks. Tafur added that when asked about Jones, head coach Josh McDaniels retorted, “Hopefully getting closer.” The Syracuse product suffered a season-ending elbow injury last season, but there has been no significant update thus far in training camp.
While Jones’ absence leaves the rest of us scratching our heads, his heir apparent is hitting the field. During the same press conference, Tafur was able to relay that rookie defensive end Tyree Wilson had been successful in his on-field drills. The next step for Wilson will be to practice in pads and actually make contact on the practice field.
Tyree Wilson did some team drills yesterday. Pads are next. Josh McDaniels happy with his progression.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 23, 2023
When the Raiders drafted Tyree Wilson with the seventh overall pick, it drew some skepticism. The Raiders seemed set at the defensive end position with Crosby and Jones on either end. But, the front office might have already decided after Jones’ down year in 2022 that it was time for a change. Wilson is still recovering from his foot injury but is on the rise towards actually playing.
It is a real possibility that Wilson was not only brought in to learn from Jones but to replace him.
So far the Chandler Jones signing has been a complete disaster. He could have 8 sacks this year and change my mind but as of now there’s no other way to describe it. https://t.co/4OvPwcpPgm
— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) August 23, 2023
Who Could Trade For Chandler Jones If The Raiders Make Him Available?
The idea of trading Chandler Jones and the remaining $34 million on his contract (approximately) seems unlikely. The truth of the matter is if Jones is healthy enough to play in 2023, several teams desperately need defensive line help. The franchises that could be in the market for a defensive end include:
- Carolina Panthers
- Chicago Bears
- New Orleans Saints (reunion with Derek Carr)
- Detroit Lions
- New York Giants
Until the Las Vegas Raiders front office clarifies what is keeping Jones off the field, there is always the potential for movement. Tyree Wilson’s ascending health could lead McDaniels and Ziegler to move the underwhelming veteran.
Plenty of the teams mentioned above could contend within their divisions, especially with more help on the defensive line. The Chandler Jones situation is one to monitor while the media members on-site wait in the dark.
*Top Photo: Associated Press/John Locher