Free agency is closing in and rumors are starting to heat up. The Las Vegas Raiders are figured to be big players on the market and Byron Jones of the Dallas Cowboys is reportedly one of their top targets. The team already has one young cornerback they’re excited about in Trayvon Mullen. The promising player sent an interesting message to Jones on Twitter.
Now, it’s unclear if Mullen is saying he wants Jones to join the Raiders or he’s just looking for a workout partner. Regardless, it’s still notable. It’s not a secret that Las Vegas has an interest in Jones and it’s likely that Mullen knows that. Players will often recruit other players to their team when free agency starts. A Mullen-Jones duo in the Raiders’ defensive backfield could be quite formidable.
Jones Fits a Need
The Raiders are excited about Mullen, but outside of him, there are a lot of question marks surrounding the cornerback position. Daryl Worley was a starter for most of the year and is set to hit free agency. It appears the team will take their time in evaluating his worth. They gave Nevin Lawson a contract extension early in the offseason, but he’s more of a depth guy than a starter.
As of right now, the Raiders don’t have a strong option to start across from Mullen. Jones is perhaps the best option available on the market. He’s only 27 and had a strong career to this point. He’s a true CB1 and would immediately help the team’s pass defense. His interception numbers aren’t great, but that could be because quarterbacks don’t target him often. If Mullen turns into a shutdown cornerback, that could mean more passes come Jones’ way and he can finally put up some good interception numbers.
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Jones Is Going to Cost a Lot of Money
The Cowboys would probably like to keep Jones around, but he’s not going to come cheap. They have to hand out big contracts to Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott. Once they get locked up, there’s probably not going to be much more money to give. Out of their big three free agents, Jones is the likely odd man out.
The biggest obstacle in landing Jones is going to be money. The market for his is expected to be robust and he’ll likely head to whoever wants to pay him the most. Luckily, the Raiders have a ton of cap space and can easily afford to give him something in the $15 to $18 million range.
However, it’s questionable how much Jon Gruden values defensive players. He wasn’t willing to make Khalil Mack one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL and he might be apprehensive to make Jones the highest-paid cornerback. Gruden is an offensive coach and he might want to save all that money to load up on his side of the ball. This offseason should provide a lot of insight into exactly how much the Raiders are going to be willing to spend on defense in the future.