For the Raiders, the policy in recent weeks has been to simply move on from the Chandler Jones drama that unfolded just before the start of the season. Little has been said about it, except by Jones on social media.
Without a full blow-by-blow recap of his messages the upshot is that Jones felt shunned or left hanging by the organization and did not seem certain as to why, though he later claimed it was because he had knowledge he was not supposed to have about owner Mark Davis. Jones’ original claim, too, was that he wants out of Vegas and won’t play for GM Dave Ziegler or coach Josh McDaniels (guys he’s known since his early days in the NFL with New England) again.
But a tweet from NFL insider Ian Rapoport on Wednesday about Jones indicates that the Raiders have not quite given up on getting Jones into the fold just yet. He wrote: “Sources: #Raiders pass-rusher Chandler Jones has been placed on the non-football illness list as he deals with a personal issue. The team has stood behind him and no one has ruled out a return if his situation improves.”
Jones Disappointed in First Raiders Season
Rapoport’s tweet was almost suspiciously supportive of Jones, and it would be fair to wonder whether the team wanted that information leaked so that the Raiders could seek to trade Jones before the October 31 trade deadline. No one, after all, wants to trade for a disgruntled player who is going to soon be waived anyway.
Not that there is much of a market for Jones out there. He is a four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher who led the league in sacks, with 17.0, in 2017 while playing for the Cardinals. Jones has had at least 10 sacks in a season eight times in his career, including five straight seasons from 2015 to 2019.
But after he signed a three-year, $51 million contract with the Raiders in 2022, Jones’ production flagged badly. He had 4.5 sacks last season, part of a Raiders defense that had one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL—they were 30th, with 27 sacks in total. They hurried the quarterback on just 5.6% of their defensive plays, which ranked 27th in the league according to Pro Football Reference.com.
Worse, the Raiders let Yannick Ngakoue go in order to bring in Jones, and while Jones struggled, Ngakoue had 9.5 sacks last season in Indianapolis, and already has one this season in Chicago.
Jones was Set to Mentor Tyree Wilson
The Raiders had also hoped that Jones, who is usually a well-liked veteran among his teammates, would be able to help bring along rookie Tyree Wilson, who was the No. 7 pick overall in last year’s draft. Wilson has shown that he has a rare combination of size, strength and speed, but he has also shown very little feel for the game to this point.
Jones said this summer that, though Wilson would be his eventual replacement, he hoped to mentor him.
“Where I am now as a player, it’s my job to grab guys like Tyree, Adam Plant — another guy you might not have heard of — these guys are young and they have such a high ceiling,” Jones said this summer, according to ESPN. “They can go so far.
“When I was a young player, I had Vince Wilfork, but he wasn’t much of a pass-rusher, but I wish I had a Maxx Crosby, a Chandler Jones in my room as a rookie. It’s our job as a player to pass that down, and the things that we can share … I mean, looking at [Tyree], I’m excited to have him on the team. … He’s going to be good for us.”