With the NFL Combine wrapping up, teams will now start looking to free agency to fill their needs before the draft. The Las Vegas Raiders have a large amount of cap space and figure to be major players in free agency. The team has massive holes all over the defense and has already been linked to a number of the top defensive free agents. One name to keep an eye on is Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, according to Vincent Bonsignore.
Considering the Cowboys have to figure out how to keep Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott, Jones is going to get a chance to test free agency. He could end up back in Dallas, but it’s becoming increasingly unlikely they’ll be able to afford to match an offer that the cornerback might receive.
Raiders Could Make Jones Highest-Paid CB in NFL, Says Analyst
Jones missed the Pro Bowl in 2019, but he was there as recently as 2018. He’s only 27 years old and should have several more years of strong play left in the tank. Pro Football Focus predicted that the Raiders would make Jones the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL by giving him $16 million a year:
In 2018, the Raiders ranked dead last in EPA per pass allowed. In 2019, the Raiders ranked dead last in EPA per pass allowed. If I had to guess what Jon Gruden says to that, it’s “something’s gotta give, man.” The good news is, they have money in the bank to pay for one of the top defensive backs hitting the open market — and there isn’t a cornerback better in this free agency pool than Byron Jones. After bouncing around at various alignments in the secondary for three years, Jones found his home at outside corner in 2018 and has since been one of the five best in the NFL. In that role, he’s been a shutdown corner in press-man coverage — he allowed just 0.39 yards per coverage snap on those reps in 2019, the second-lowest figure at the position and over eight-tenths of a yard lower than the average. Daryl Worley was dead last in that stat, in case you were wondering.
Trayvon Mullen is entering his second year and the Raiders are very excited about his potential. However, there currently isn’t a good option to put next to him right now. A duo of Jones and an up and coming Mullen could be exactly what the Raiders need to try and slow down the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Raiders Will Take Chances in Free Agency
The Raiders season may have ended in disaster as they lost five of their last six games, but it’s easy to forget that they had a legit shot at the playoffs late in the season. They are a couple of good free agents and a solid draft away from being a hot pick to get into the playoffs in 2020. The Raiders were big spenders in free agency last year and general manager Mike Mayock says the team will be again this year.
“Did we swing and miss on a free agent or two? Yeah, we did. I understand that. And we will continue to take some chances at different times,” Mayock said Friday on NFL Network.
If the Raiders can figure out how to get a cornerback like Byron Jones and a linebacker like Cory Littleton, they’ll be playoff contenders next season. It’s shaping up to be a big offseason for the silver and black.