Antonio Pierce Put Job on the Line for Raiders to Sign Young Defender

antonio pierce

Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce.

One of the most impactful additions the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2023 season was claiming cornerback Jack Jones off waivers after the New England Patriots released him. Jones came with some baggage but showed flashes of being an impact player during his rookie season in 2022.

Antonio Pierce was the Raiders’ interim head coach at the time and he had known Jones since being his high school head coach at Long Beach Polytechnic. According to the coach, there was serious apprehension about signing Jones but Pierce was so confident in the cornerback that he was willing to put his job on the line to sign him.

“As soon as [Jack Jones] hit that wire and I saw it come across, I ran right upstairs to our interim GM Champ Kelly. I said ‘Champ, he can help us,’” Pierce said on the February 8 episode of the “All Facts No Brakes” podcast. “[Champ said] ‘Aww, I don’t know, man. He got a lot of baggage.’ I said ‘Oh, I know. Trust me, I been here for all of it.’ Then I went to Mark Davis. [He said] ‘I don’t know A.P. Right now you want to do that?’

“So, I let it kind of ride for about a couple hours and went downstairs and did some homework, watched some more film, researched a little bit more and went back upstairs. This time it wasn’t about asking. I’m pounding on the table. I said ‘You know what? I believe in him so much, if we F this up, get rid of both of us at the end of the season because I know what I’m getting with Jack Jones.’”

The Jones signing paid off in a big way as he worked his way into the starting lineup, caught two interceptions and scored two defensive touchdowns.

Antonio Pierce Defends Jack Jones

Talent has never been a concern for Jack Jones. He was heavily recruited out of high school and landed at USC. He eventually transferred to Arizona State after some off-the-field issues where he reunited with Antonio Pierce, who was the defensive coordinator at the time.

Though Jones has had his fair share of issues away from the football field, Pierce believes in him.

“First and foremost, Jack is not a bad young man,” Pierce said. “He’s a father. He graduated from ASU. He made decisions that we all made at certain times in our life that we wish we could go back. He has never hurt anybody. He’s done nothing so criminal that he’s put himself in the position to be jailed. …

“But when you put him in a culture and an environment where he can be taught, led, groomed, hugged, loved, disciplined, and you can keep recycling that cycle with him, you’re going to get the best out of him. And what you saw in those last six or seven weeks that he was with us, was just that. Because on the field, he’s a problem, and that’s in a good way.”

Jack Jones Should Be Key Player for Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders have struggled to find consistent cornerback play for years so if Jack Jones continues to play as he did in 2023, he could be with the team for a long time. Nate Hobbs is one of the better slot cornerbacks in the NFL and Amik Robertson improved in a big way this season.

If the Raiders can re-sign Robertson, they’ve got a really solid trio of young cornerbacks. The team likely still needs a true No. 1. If they could add a player like Jaylon Johnson to the group, it could be one of the best secondaries in the NFL.

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