Acquisition of Chandler Jones puts Las Vegas Raiders in thick of AFC West offseason frenzy

HENDERSON, Nev. -- The Las Vegas Raiders have entered the chat.

Indeed, with the ever-escalating race to add talent in the AFC West -- a new quarterback in Denver in Russell Wilson, the Los Angeles Chargers adding a familiar face in elite edge rusher Khalil Mack and an opportunistic cornerback in J.C. Jackson -- the Raiders finally got into the act Wednesday with a couple of splashy moves that are more than reactionary ones.

Chandler Jones agreeing to a three-year deal worth more than $51 million, per NFL Network, to join forces with Maxx Crosby, who just inked a $95 million extension, gives the Raiders some firepower against a division awash in QB talent -- Wilson, Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Justin Herbert with the Chargers. Acquiring a physical cornerback in Rock Ya-Sin in a trade for the guy Jones is replacing -- Yannick Ngakoue, who had 10 sacks last season -- addresses a specific need.

And not just the market for what are sure to be bestsellers on the Las Vegas Strip -- Ya-Sin City jerseys in silver and black.

What, you didn't think the Raiders' new Patriot Way regime of general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels was going to sit idly by and watch the rest of the division race on by, did you?

It might have felt like that during the 48-hour "legal tampering" period, with the Raiders agreeing to terms with only backup cornerback Darius Phillips and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols.

But adding a motivated Jones, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro with 107.5 career sacks (the most in the NFL since 2012), is more than an eye-opener. Consider: Jones is already intimately familiar with Wilson from their days together in the NFC West. He has sacked Wilson 16.5 times in his career.

Yes, pass-rushers are at a premium in the AFC West with Jones and Crosby in Las Vegas, Mack and Joey Bosa with the Chargers, Chris Jones and Frank Clark in Kansas City, and Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory in Denver.

Jones just might be the most accomplished in terms of racking up sacks, though.

Still, he is 32 and has already played in 139 games in his career. And while five of his 10.5 sacks last year came in the season opener, he had only 2.5 combined sacks in the Cardinals' last six games. So how much does he have left in the tank?

The Raiders, no doubt, are counting on a focused and more content Jones, who skipped Arizona's OTAs and minicamp last offseason after he did not get a contract extension with the Cardinals.

And while new Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham insisted talk of the differences between 4-3 and 3-4 defenses is "outdated" in today's NFL, the Raiders last truly ran a 3-4 when Warren Sapp was on the team, Graham has 3-4 tendencies and Jones thrives as an outside linebacker rushing the passer in the 3-4.

So there.

Ya-Sin, meanwhile, should have every chance to become a full-time starter for the first time in his career, which began in 2019. And yes, the Raiders need help in the secondary.

Or did you miss the note above about the quarterbacks in the AFC West?