Raiders ‘Would Love to Erase’ $51 Million Contract Given to Disappointing Star

dave ziegler mark davis

Getty Dave Ziegler & Mark Davis of the Las Vegas Raiders.

General manager Dave Ziegler’s first year running the Las Vegas Raiders featured some key mistakes. While the trade for Davante Adams worked out well, the decision to sign Chandler Jones to a $51 million contract turned out to a be high-profile miss. The former Pro Bowl pass rusher only had 4.5 sacks in 15 games and missed the final two games with an injury.

Cutting Jones this offseason would lead to a $25.6 million dead cap hit for the Raiders. They won’t be able to move off of him. He’s a good player to have around due to his familiarity with the defense and veteran leadership but it’s fair to question if his play on the field justifies how much salary cap he’s eating up. Alex Kay of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders “would love to erase” the contract they gave Jones last year:

Jones’ drop-off occurred despite playing with one of the best edge-rushing partners he’s ever worked with in two-time Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby. It’s a concerning sign for a player who is well on the wrong side of 30 but still has two years left on the three-year, $51 million deal he signed last March.

While the Raiders would likely prefer a mulligan and a chance to re-allocate that money to more productive players, they are stuck with Jones for 2023. Releasing him would incur a dead-cap hit of over $25 million.

If Jones doesn’t have a resurgent season, at least the Raiders can move on from him at this time next year. They’ll be able to save over $12 million by cutting the edge-rusher in the final season of his deal.

Can Jones Still Improve His Play?

Once defensive ends get into their 30s, their play typically declines instead of getting better. Perhaps a second year with the team will allow Jones to be more comfortable in the defense. Maxx Crosby gets most of the attention so Jones should be getting good looks. His decline last season wasn’t due to a lack of effort. He’s one of the hardest workers on the team.

Jones knows he didn’t play to the level that he’s typically known for so he’ll work hard to get back to form. However, he recently turned 33 and is recovering from an elbow injury. It’s an uphill battle for him to get back to being one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The Raiders certainly need him to if they hope to improve the defense next season.

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Jones Not Going Anywhere, Says Insider

As noted earlier, it’ll be quite difficult for the Raiders to move off Jones. It appears they’re not going to even try. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Las Vegas doesn’t have any plans to trade the four-time Pro Bowler:

Edge rusher Chandler Jones and tight end Darren Waller, who have two of the biggest cap hits on the team, are expected back in 2023 according to an NFL source who requested anonymity so that they could speak freely.

Jones signed a three-year, $51 million contract last offseason but only delivered 4.5 sacks — the fewest of his career outside of his injury-shortened 2020 season. The 33-year-old is expected to return for a second season in the desert.

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