Chandler Jones’ first season with the Las Vegas Raiders was a disaster — at least on the field.
Jones fell from 10.5 sacks in his last year with the Arizona Cardinals to just 4.5 in his inaugural campaign with the Raiders, hardly what Vegas was hoping for after signing the veteran to a three-year deal worth $51 million.
Jones’ second go-round with the Raiders is shaping up as just as much of a catastrophe — only this time, the calamity is taking place off the field.
The Chandler Jones-Raiders Saga Is a Mystery
Jones kicked off his public dispute with the Raiders by posting several since-deleted messages on social media suggesting he no longer wanted to play for Las Vegas.
Jones indicated he couldn’t get in the Raiders’ building to work out and hinted that he wanted incumbent defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to replace Josh McDaniels as Las Vegas’ head coach.
“It’s a shame that I am a top athlete with 112 sacks in the NFL and I have to go to a local gym to work out during the season for no apparent reason this is wild to me Josh and you know it you need to do what’s right,” Jones wrote in a screen-shotted text message, apparently to McDaniels.
𝗨𝗽𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗲 #Raiders DE Chandler Jones says: "I don't wanna play for the Raiders if my HC, or GM… " on IG.
It seems he's not able to get in the #Raiders gym and has to go to a local gym instead and the team contacted his ex-girlfriend who hasn't been with for 5 years
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 5, 2023
Jones is away from the Raiders on Wednesday, just days before the club opens the season against the division-rival Denver Broncos. Speaking to reporters today, McDaniels largely demurred on Jones.
“That’s kind of a personal situation,” McDaniels said. “We’ve never really gone into those kinds of things, so I’m gonna steer away from that …
” … There’s nothing to talk about. Right now, we’re going day-to-day. He’s not gonna be here today, so we’ll kinda take it one day at a time.”
Jones worked with McDaniels and Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler with the New England Patriots from 2012-15. The Pats traded Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in the 2016 offseason, but McDaniels and Ziegler wouldn’t have signed him if they didn’t feel comfortable with his locker-room presence.
Las Vegas already paid Jones an $8.5 million roster bonus in March. The Raiders also executed a maximum restructure on Jones’ contract, reducing his base salary to the league minimum and giving him a $6.33 million signing bonus prorated through 2027.
Vegas would only realize $912,000 in cap savings by cutting Jones now — they’d be left with a dead money charge of more than $13 million in 2023 and $12+ million next season. The Raiders could potentially recoup money from Jones if they suspend him or cite him for breach of contract, but that might be a way down the road.
No. 7 overall pick Tyree Wilson could play alongside Maxx Crosby and help the Raiders replace Jones, assuming the latter isn’t available for Week 1. Wilson has a top-notch pedigree but spent most of the summer on the non-football injury list as he recovered from foot surgery.