Despite the fact the Las Vegas Raiders have a young defensive core, they are lacking a vital component that would change the entire outlook of the defense moving forward. Defensive tackle Chris Jones can be that missing piece.
Last season, the defensive front compromised one of the strongest position groups on the Raiders roster. Johnathan Hankins fulfilled the role of a stout defender against the run. Pro Football Focus deemed Maurice Hurst one of the most effective players at the position in just his second season. Additionally, P.J. Hall had his moments and tossed opposing linemen around like rag dolls.
Nowadays, edge defenders are the main recipients of high praise in the NFL. Household names such as Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, and J.J. Watt successfully hunt down quarterbacks on a weekly basis and while their performances are excellent, their teammates on the interior can be just as devastating when getting to the quarterback. Aaron Donald is a prime example of the absolute havoc a defensive tackle can cause.
A Detroit horror film by Aaron Donald pic.twitter.com/d47C7Er9QA
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) December 5, 2018
The Rams five-time All-Pro is in a class of his own among interior defensive linemen. However, the second best is set to hit free agency. Should the Raiders attempt to acquire him?
From Foe to Friend?
Every member of Raider Nation is familiar with the name Chris Jones, the best defender on the Kansas City Chiefs, and a living nightmare for the Raiders.
DT Chris Jones is poised to hit free agency💰in March if KC doesn’t apply the franchise tag. He finished 2019 with 20 QB hits, 9 sacks, 8 TFLs and 4 batted passes in 13 regular season games. Elite interior pass rusher.
— Kris Wysong (@KrisWysong) February 5, 2020
Jones, who was Pro Football Focus’ second highest graded pass rushing defensive tackle in 2019, will be seeking a new deal. With a substantial Patrick Mahomes contract extension looming, the Chiefs may not be able to spread enough wealth to retain the best defender in this past Sunday’s Super Bowl victory. The franchise tag is the fallback plan if contract negotiations reach a stalemate. If the star defensive tackle somehow reaches the open market, the Raiders would be foolish not to inquiry for his services. The ability to convert a division rival into an asset for the team is what transpired with Rodney Hudson, who has made many forget his NFL beginnings and has made his career, and money with the Raiders, who could afford Jones the same opportunity as his potential arrival would allow players like Maxx Crosby more freedom to work unhindered. Las Vegas is an appealing destination with tax freedom and the Silver and Black has the cap space to make an offer he couldn’t refuse. A terrific counter to Mahomes moving forward is not something the Raiders would overlook. The situation does have many variables, as there appears to be mutual interest for him to return between him and Kansas City.
If he remains with the Chiefs for life, there is nothing to fear, the NFL draft offers two great alternatives.