Chris Jones paves the way for Raiders signing Christian Wilkins to massive contract

The Raiders made a splash to kick off their free agency on Monday.

Las Vegas Raiders, Christian Wilkins
Las Vegas Raiders, Christian Wilkins / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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As NFL free agency kicked off Monday, the Las Vegas Raiders waited about an hour and a half before making a big-time move.

And boy, did they ever.

The Raiders entered the offseason needing some help up front across their defensive line, and that's exactly the route Tom Telesco and company went to begin their free agency frenzy.

Las Vegas agreed to terms with former Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins on a massive deal.

Wilkins is now the second notable defensive tackle to be paid, along with one of his new division rivals, Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones.

Christian Wilkins cashed in big time, and he can thank Chris Jones for the boost.

The rise of the salary cap this year certainly comes into play, here, as teams have a good chunk of money on top of the space they already had coming into free agency. But, after the Chiefs signed Jones to a record 5-year, $158.75 million contract, Wilkins had to be licking his chops.

This was already an offseason where we figured defensive linemen were going to get paid a whole lot of money, but the precedent set by Jones' deal likely gave other free agent linemen even more reason to be excited.

Jones is maybe the best in the game not named Aaron Donald, so there isn't going to be another contract of that magnitude (at least, it's not likely). But, Wilkins' deal comes in pretty close, which is saying something about just how high the Raiders valued him.

Jones is earning an average of $31.75 million annually, while Wilkins' new deal breaks down to an average of $27.5 million per season.

Last year, Wilkins proved himself to be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game, busting loose in a career year. He tallied career highs in sacks (9.0), quarterback pressures (30) and quarterback hits (23), per Pro Football Reference.

The Raiders now pair one of the league's top defensive tackles with one of the league's top pass rushers in Maxx Crosby. It's safe to say that, under Antonio Pierce, this defense is well on its way to being a whole different unit in 2024.

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