Predicting the superlatives for the Raiders 2022 season
Best Free Agent Pickup: Chandler Jones
The answer you want to see is Adams, right? While he was indeed the best player added this off-season, he wasn’t a free agent. That said, the answer has to be Chandler Jones.
Jones is such a great acquisition that I just finished writing how he’s an easy pick for Las Vegas’ Defensive Player of the Year, even without him playing one snap for the franchise yet. The reasons are obvious; He’s the definition of elite, has familiarity with the team’s defensive coordinator, and joins All-Pro Maxx Crosby as an edge rusher.
We’ll start with Jones being elite. As mentioned, the former Cardinal is coming off of six double-digit sack seasons in a row, not including his injury-riddled 2020 season. In fact, during Chandler Jones’s ten-year career, he’s never had a season where he’s started at least 14 contests and failed to reach 10 sacks. That’s why Jones is a 4x Pro Bowler with 2 first-team All-Pros.
Throughout his career, Jones has totaled 107.5 sacks. If you take away his 2020 season, in which he appeared in only 5 games, Jones averages 11.83 sacks per season. As impressive as the sacks are, it isn’t the best part of his game – Chandler is a turnover machine. With 33 total forced fumbles, Jones averages 3.66 forced fumbles a year, minus that ’20 season.
In 2019, Jones led the league in forced fumbles, totaling 8. He was close to matching that number last year, ending two short with 6.
The numbers are out of this world, and Jones is as talented of an edge rusher as anyone leaguewide. While Jones himself is an elite talent, so is his counterpart Maxx Crosby, who should only make Jones that much better.
I mentioned it earlier, but I’ll go back to it: Maxx Crosby led the NFL in pressures last season, per PFF. That’s what Jones has helped him on the other side. That means two things:
1. Offenses can’t put all their blockers on Jones, because Crosby is on the other side.
2. The two are competitors, and will spark the competitive spirit on each down. The Raiders saw this last year with Ngakoue and Crosby.
Although this is about Jones, do not underestimate the impact Maxx Crosby has here. After all, Jones even went as far as crediting Maxx as a major factor in his decision to come to Las Vegas. Crosby will help Jones, and that will help Jones’ numbers. However, the reverse is also true: Jones will help Crosby, and that’s just another reason he’s Las Vegas’ top free agency pickup.
Finally, we’ll touch on the familiarity with Patrick Graham. When Jones came into the league, Patrick Graham was his positions coach. This includes being part of Jones’ first full 16-game season, where the edge rusher posted 11.5 sacks. Needless to say, Jones is also quite familiar with Josh McDaniels and has a great working relationship there as well.
As Graham and Jones went their separate ways throughout their careers, Jones continued to mold into the perfect player for Graham to coach. Graham loves his versatility, and Jones has grown into a player with vast experience as both a defensive line player and an edge rusher from the outside linebacker position.