Raiders Could Sign Chiefs’ $19.5 Million All-Pro in Free Agency, Says Analyst

dave ziegler

Getty Las Vegas Raiders GM Dave Ziegler.

The Las Vegas Raiders have struggled to find a dependable defensive tackle since Tommy Kelly left in 2012. According to Bleacher Report, it could be time to make a run at one of the best in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones held out of training camp and missed the team’s Week 1 game due to a contract dispute. He was only able to secure a restructured one-year deal and will be a free agent at the end of the year. Bleacher Report pegged Jones as a 2024 free agent target for the Raiders.

“The Chiefs and Chris Jones ironed things out for the 2023 season with some incentives that upped his earning potential this season,” BR NFL Staff wrote in a September 25 column. “It also leaves the possibility of using the franchise tag on him next season, but that would be costly. It leaves an opening for him to make it to free agency where teams should be willing to open the vault to get him signed.

“The Raiders should be among the first in line. Jones is a transformative force on the inside who would team up with Crosby to make the Raiders defense one to be reckoned with.”

How Chris Jones Could Change the Las Vegas Raiders Defense

The Raiders don’t generate much of an interior pass rush. Over the past 20 games, Las Vegas defensive tackles have 4.0 sacks. In two games this season, Jones already has 2.5 sacks and had 15.5 last year.

According to Pro Football Focus, Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby is tied for the NFL’s lead with 19 quarterback pressures. Nobody else on the defense has more than five. Crosby is the only Raiders defender who can consistently get after the quarterback. He is also frequently double-teamed considering offenses aren’t at much risk of another player creating pressure.

Adding a player like Jones takes a lot off of Crosby’s plate. Teams can’t put all their focus on Crosby as Jones can arguably be even more disruptive. He is likely looking at a record-breaking contract this offseason in the neighborhood of the $95 million contract the Los Angeles Rams gave Aaron Donald. It might be worth it for a team like the Raiders to give out that type of money to get Jones. Not only would they be adding one of the premier defensive players in the NFL, but they would also be making the Chief’s defense weaker in the process.

Las Vegas Raiders Among Lowest-Spenders on Defense

According to Spotrac, the Raiders have $51.3 million in salary cap space dedicated to the defense. That’s the third-lowest in the NFL. The team can afford to spend a bit more on the defense to add an impact player like Chris Jones.

The Raiders haven’t had a top-15 defense since the 2002 season. A duo of Jones and Maxx Crosby would form an elite pass rushing attack. Having a great defensive line helps mask potential issues in the secondary. The Raiders have avoided spending big on defense for years but Jones is the kind of player a team should do whatever they can to add. If he does end up hitting free agency, Las Vegas should be one of the first teams to call.

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