Las Vegas Raiders Sign Chandler Jones, Trade Yannick Ngakoue
NFL Offseason - The first splashy Las Vegas Raiders acquisition of 2022 NFL free agency was a very splashy Raiders kind of acquisition: the team is signing former Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots edge rusher Chandler Jones, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Initial reports claim the deal will be worth $17 million per year.
In a related move, the Raiders will trade edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin in what is being reported as a straight-up player-for-player deal.
Jones, a 32-year-old two-time All-Pro, recorded 10.5 sacks last season: five in the opener against the Tennessee Titans and 5.5 for the remainder of the season. Jones ranked 24th in the NFL with 52 pressures and 43rd in the league with 26 hurries in 2021, per Sports Info Solutions. He missed two games in 2021 due to COVID after missing much of the 2020 season with a biceps injury. The numbers suggest a down year for Jones, though the early-season loss of fellow sack threat J.J. Watt was at least part of the problem.
Ya–Sin, a second-round pick in 2019, played well last season after a rocky start to his career. He fills a gaping need for a Raiders team that drafted cornerbacks by blindfolding Mike Mayock and making him point to power-program media guides in recent years.
The much-traveled Ngakoue, who turns 27 years old at the end of the month, enjoyed a rebound season with the Raiders last year, recording 10 sacks after wearing out his welcome with the Jaguars in 2019 and hopping from the Ravens to the Vikings in 2020. Ngakoue was due an $8-million roster bonus that would have given him a $15-million cap number in 2022.
The Raiders signed Maxx Crosby to a four-year contract extension before the start of free agency. Jones will replace Ngakoue as the bookend pass rusher to Crosby in coordinator Patrick Graham’s 3-4 themed defense. Jones played for the New England Patriots when Graham was their linebacker coach in the mid-2010s.
Overall Chandler Jones Impact
Crosby and Jones are gonna generate some sacks and keep the Raiders from falling too far behind in the AFC West. But the Raiders just spent a lot of money to get older and more expensive at one of the few position groups where they did not have a glaring, immediate need, and Jones was awfully quiet for most of last season.
Ya-Sin’s arrival balances this cluster of moves considerably, but this move has the earmarks of the Raiders being the Raiders (overpay famous veteran), with a little bit of Josh McDaniels being a Belichick Buddy (give me some old Patriots!) mixed in. And let's not oversell the fact that Jones knows Graham's system: edge rushers are pretty much edge rushers.
Jones would have made more sense for a true contender seeking a short-term veteran mercenary. A younger edge such as Haason Reddick (signed by the Eagles) could have been a worthy rebuilding block for Graham and McDaniels. This is just a move that takes the Raiders from fourth place in the AFC West to fourth place with a better record and a bigger payroll.