Should the Oakland Raiders be Interested in Jacoby Jones?


The Baltimore Ravens have announced the release of former Super Bowl hero, Jacoby Jones. Jones’ production in at the Wide Receiver position was all but eliminated last season, getting only 10 reception on 17 targets by Ravens gun slinger, Joe Flacco.

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Given the young talent on the Raiders roster, the expectation of making a splash in Free Agency, and potentially in the NFL Draft at the Wide Receiver position, why would the Raiders consider a receiver who has apparently lost a step, in his early 30s?

The Answer: Simple. Special Teams. Last season the Raiders had a marry go round of players back to field punts and kickoffs, especially when Carrie went out with an injury. The great Charles Woodson even went back to return a few punts after Denarius Moore proved to be a liability by fielding a punt with his face.

Last season, Jacoby Jones averaged almost 10 yards per punt return, with a long of 45 yards. The Raiders averaged just over seven yards per punt return, last season. Jones had four games with a punt return of 20 yards or more. That kind of boost to field position is the perfect compliment to the defense forcing a team into a punting situation.

On Kick Returns, not a single time did Jones elect to fair catch. That shows confidence, and it shows great field awareness to be able to take the ball out of the endzone, protect it, and help give the offense a better starting point. When a player averages over 28 yards per carry, he also becomes someone the coaches can depend on to make those kind of returns.

The Raiders by comparison averaged just over 20 yards per kick return last season. In seven games last season, Jones had returns of longer than 35 yards, even busting off a 108 yard touchdown against the Steelers.

It’s no secret that Jones’ days as a consistent receiving threat could be over, but the reliability he brings to the return game could give him some “under the radar” value the Raiders could use. Considering he was owed a pretty modest salary in Baltimore before being released ($2.5 million according to Mike Garafolo) he could be picked up for a pretty modest price.

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When you really look back on the Raiders’ 2014 season, and start to find reasons why they struggled so much, something that immediately jumps out to me is field position. It is hard for any offense to get rolling when they are starting every drive with their back against their own endzone.

Watch the Battle of the Bay against the 49ers. In that game, the Raiders won the field position battle, same with the win against the Chiefs. The field position battle is something that starts early in a game, the longer a team is winning that battle, the harder it is for the other team to recover.

Having a weapon like Jones returning kicks for the Raiders could give them not only a reliable set of hands to catch the ball, but they would have someone who opposing teams would have to scheme for because he’s a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball. Because of that the Raiders should consider taking a look at a veteran who has potential upside on special teams should he come to Oakland.