Allow Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby to explain:
A slow start to what evolves into much more of a marathon rather than a sprint, the newly minted front-office tandem of GM Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels wasted no time in getting their feet wet in a deep pool of talent. Their signing of premier sack artist Chandler Jones saw the two take a full-blown plunge into the free-agent market, creating one of the biggest splashes of the early tampering window.
A three-year, $51M deal that will add another headlining name within the star-studded AFC West. An arms race within the division has begun and the Raiders are the newest organization to add a piece to their loaded roster. Jones is a two-time All-Pro coming off a 10.5 sack season and with Yannick Ngakoue now an Indianapolis Colt, it’s free rein with Jones and Crosby at the 5-tech. One of the league’s elite edge-benders with multiple Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl ring to his name, Jones will now combat gunslingers in the form of Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and the freshly announced Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos. A pat on the back is much deserved towards Ziegler to open up the Brinks truck for Jones.
With seven sacks in each of his first three seasons, the presence of Jones will present a scenario of “pick your poison” for opposing offenses, in turn, giving Crosby increased 1-on–1 looks from the outside. Though retaining Ngakoue would have surely helped the front four, the plug and play addition of Jones opposite Crosby instantly makes for one of, if not the top, pass-rushing duo in the division. Yes, even with outside linebackers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack now in Los Angeles. A defense that remains predicated on its ability to wreak havoc in the backfield, as we saw most recently in Super Bowl LV where the Tampa Bay front seven made life impossible for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the high-octane Chiefs offense to get into a rhythm, should serve Las Vegas well.
From the outside, it had looked like Vegas was the tortoise in the race West so far. But if you expected the Raiders to go down quietly, then you don’t know how McDaniels does business. While rumors have swirled on the offensive side of the ball surrounding quarterback Derek Carr and his potential departure from Las Vegas, he looks to be back this fall and with that, a foundational leader to potentially captain a storybook run with doubters and skeptics aplenty. Jones and Crosby will now serve as the poster children of a youth-infused defense touting the likes of Trevon Moehrig and newly acquired Rock Ya-Sin in the secondary. The Raiders, on paper, with fresh leadership, a new resounding voice in the locker room, and a sparkling new Ferrari in Jones are set to burst onto the bright lights of the strip and have put themselves in at least a position to compete with their Goliath divisional foes.