Chandler Jones Las Vegas Raiders

If Chandler Jones is on his way out, what’s next for the Las Vegas Raiders?

Over the past 48 hours, veteran edge rusher Chandler Jones has been the subject of nearly all Las Vegas Raiders talk. With Instagram posts questioning his desire to play in Sin City, among other battles he’s fighting, Jones has aired out many personal grievances. The 33-year-old has even “called out” his head coach for, as Jones states, speaking to him as if he’s an object.

With shots being thrown at the Raiders head coach, defensive coordinator and general manager, one has to wonder if the team is willing to overlook such an event – an event which has now dragged on for two separate days. General manager Dave Ziegler selected edge rusher Tyree Wilson seventh-overall to be Maxx Crosby’s long-time counterpart, so it’s no secret the veteran entering his 12th NFL season isn’t part of the long-term plans in Vegas.

Drafting Wilson doesn’t mean Chandler is no longer important to the Silver and Black, but it certainly does make him more expendable. This is especially true when considering the $11 million cap space now available for use after Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract restructure.

The Raiders have paved a path to cut ties with Jones without sacrificing much of their future. However, parting with the former All-Pro would highlight one major concern: the [lack of] edge rusher depth.

If Las Vegas moves in a different direction, what will become of the edge rushing unit? With four edge rushers currently on the team’s depth chart, including Jones, parting ways is a scary proposition.

Still, it’s entirely possible that this is the route the Silver and Black travel. And, if they do, what options will the team have?

There’s where I come in; not as a Jones replacement, unfortunately, but as the guy who covers the available options.

If Chandler Jones and the Raiders part ways, what happens next?

Immediately, attention will be turned to the practice squad. This is a group that houses Isaac Rochell, Janarius Robinson, and UDFA David Agoha. Rochell was credited with a half-sack this preseason while Agoha, who joined the Raiders through the league’s International Player Pathway program, earned a full sack.

Las Vegas will likely desire experience if they’re left without Chandler Jones, and Rochell fits that bill well. With 10 starts and 70 contests played, Rochell is no stranger to the National Football League. The 28-year-old has amassed 9.5 career sacks, doing so at both defensive tackle and as an edge rusher. Such versatility also bodes well with what the Raiders are looking for.

If, for whatever reason, the team decides to go in a different direction, now-former Raider Jordan Willis is also a perfect fit. That’s why Ziegler gave him a contract this offseason, after all. Willis, a six-year veteran, has totaled 10.5 sacks in 69 appearances. He’s also responsible for three forced fumbles in his last four seasons, which is notable when dealing with a team in need of creating more turnovers.

Before moving on from the fountain of familiarity that Ziegler and McDaniels have built in just two offseasons, one more name stands out in my eyes.

Last summer, the Raiders brought in Kyler Fackrell with hopes of him being a key part of the edge rush unit. Unfortunately, Fackrell suffered an injury prior to the team’s Week 1 contest, and his season in Las Vegas ended before it began. Now in 2023, the veteran with 23.5 career sacks is once again available. Perhaps Ziegler looks to continue the experiment that never got the chance to begin.

Other options

If you’re familiar with Moe Moton and his work, well.. you might know exactly where this is going. Patrick Queen, a linebacker frequently used to set the edge in Baltimore, is a player who makes sense for the Raiders. Patrick Graham, the team’s defensive coordinator, loves versatility. Queen can do it all.

With 10 career sacks, including five in 2022, Queen has proved his worth as an edge rusher. Add nine pass breakups and three interceptions over three seasons, and you get a player who can drop back into coverage as well.

Two interceptions in Queen’s latest campaign [should] help shoot up the Raiders league-low interception total from 2022. With four career forced fumbles and five career fumble recoveries, this is also a player who has a knack for creating turnovers.

Kyle Van Noy is another player who just makes too much sense. He has familiarity with both Ziegler and McDaniels, albeit not with the Raiders. Graham loves versatile players, and Van Noy is the gold standard of versatility. He’s played in 3-4s, 4-3s, in the middle, on the outside, and as a straight up edge rusher. In each of his last six seasons, the 10-year veteran has totaled at least five sacks.

Tashawn Bower is one final name that sticks out to me. Bower spent some time with the Raiders in 2022, although he hardly saw playing time across his six games played. If Chandler Jones is indeed on his way out, expect a player with ample experience to take his roster spot. With 26 career contests, I’m just not sure that’s Bower. Still, this remains a plausible option.

*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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