Chris Jones is an ideal fit for the Raiders defensive front. He’s a big, powerful and agile interior pass rusher who can generate steady pressure and it’s tough against the run. He would make the entire Raiders line better, accenting Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell off the edge.
Throwing money at him in free agency, and stealing him from rival Kansas City, would be a worthy enterprise if the Chiefs hadn’t slapped a non-exclusive franchise tag on him Monday morning.
The Raiders could still go after Jones, but they’d have to give him an offer the Chiefs wouldn’t match and then give K.C. two first-round picks.
So, yeah, that’s not going to happen as the free-agent negotiating window opened Monday.
Neither will a pursuit of Broncos safety Justin Simmons, who also received the franchise tag. The Raiders were interested in the free safety, per The Athletic, and could’ve paired him with 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram.
Simmons, too, is essentially off the market. Sure, trades are still possible, but making deals with an AFC West rival is unrealistic unless it was cost-prohibitive.
Receiver A.J. Green also got a tag from Cincinnati, taking a veteran option out of a lackluster free-agent class of receivers. That’s an area of a great need for the Raiders moving forward.
It’s also noteworthy that the L.A. Rams didn’t tag linebacker Cory Littleton. The Raiders are definitely interested in the coverage linebacker with great versatility and speed, according to ESPN, though his market will be robust.
The Raiders need a complete linebacker overhaul and are seriously looking to fix the problem this time around. Littleton seems like a perfect fit, someone to be paired with a draft pick working on the interior.
The Silver and Black will have to maneuver around these franchise tags, though it’s hard to call any of them a surprise. They likely knew Simmons and Jones wouldn’t be unrestricted and plan to use their bevy of salary-cap space to make some splashes in free agency and sign players when formally allowed to do so on Wednesday afternoon when the league year begins.