Raiders’ $51M Star Named to Dreaded Team

chandler jones

Getty Las Vegas Raiders DE Chandler Jones.

After going on a spending spree last offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders decided to be more frugal in 2023. Chandler Jones is likely a big reason for that. The team gave him a massive $51 million contract last year in hopes that he would form a top pass-rushing duo with Maxx Crosby.

While Jones was a good leader, his impact was minimal on the field. He finished with just 4.5 sacks on the season and was Pro Football Focus‘ 69th-ranked edge defender. Jones is one of the best pass rushers of the last decade but he’s showing serious signs of decline at 33 years old. This led to him being named to Football Outsiders’ dreaded 2022 All-Keep Choppin’ Wood Team, which is reserved for the worst players at every position:

One three-sack game against the Chargers in December saved Jones’ year from being a complete bust, but 4.5 sacks is still the lowest sack total for Jones in a year he played more than five games, and his 15 quarterback hits are the fewest since he left New England in 2015. Jones had a pressure rate of just 10.3%, which was 92nd out of 270 players with at least 100 pass-rushers, per SIS charting. There were some potential warning signs from 2021 in Arizona, in retrospect—his hurry rate had fallen dramatically, and his pressure rate had dipped too, even if the sacks were still there—but for Jones not even to hit five sacks? For Jones to have 12 games where he didn’t reach the quarterback once? Almost unthinkable. . . He has $16 million in guaranteed money next season, so the Raiders are stuck hoping that the 33-year-old can figure out a way to make things work next year.

Can Jones Bounce Back?

There’s no way for the Raiders to get off of Jones’ contract this year so they need him to perform. He’s a very hard worker and knows he needs to play better but is getting older and coming off of a serious injury. The Raiders will almost certainly cut him after the year so if he hopes to get another decent-sized contract, he needs to have a good year.

While he’s no longer the player who will get 19.0 sacks, he’s still capable of making an impact. He’s just a year removed from a 10.5-sack season.  It was a mistake to give Jones $51 million but he can still be a valuable player. A second year in Patrick Graham’s defense should be good for him.

Tyree Wilson Puts Pressure on Jones

Last year, the Raiders didn’t have much depth behind Jones and Crosby. That won’t be the case this year following the team’s drafting of Tyree Wilson with the No. 7 pick. He’s very raw and could take some time to develop. He’s also injured, which means he’ll miss many of the team’s offseason practices.

However, he’s an athletic marvel who is comparable to Jones when he was coming into the NFL. If Wilson is further along in his development than people realize, he’ll quickly start taking away snaps from Jones. That’s why it’s important for the veteran to have a good season. If Wilson is healthy, there’s no reason not to give him snaps if Jones isn’t making an impact.

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