The Raiders always seem to be in the market for cornerbacks, and this offseason isn’t any different.
Over the past few years, the franchise has acquired veterans such as Sean Smith and David Amerson to mixed reviews. It’s drafted the likes of Gareon Conley and D.J. Hayden, only to be disappointed. Last year, GM Mike Mayock drafted Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson and signed vetean free agent Lamarcus Joyner – yet the team is looking for additional help this spring, either through the draft or free agency.
One possible avenue for improvement is to sign Byron Jones, the Dallas Cowboys corner who is expected to hit free agency in the next few weeks.
The Cowboys would love to keep Jones, a first-round pick by Dallas in 2015, but are caught in a salary squeeze.
Jones, a 6-footer who went to the Pro Bowl in 2018, played 15 games in 2019. He didn’t have an interception, but had six pass breakups and was in on 46 tackles. Jones began his career at safety, but then transitioned to cornerback, where he found a home. Now, he’s considered perhaps the best cornerback available in free agency, and the Raiders are considered among his most likely suitors.
Samuel Teets of NFL Spin Zone wrote recently that pairing Jones with Mullen – who had a solid rookie season – "would give a lacking secondary quite the upgrade."
Added Teets: "Jones would slot in as a still relatively young cornerback to pair with Mullen and hopefully revamp a passing defense that was taken advantage of last season."
Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the Raiders will make a run at Jones – and could also target Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos.
In 2019, the Raiders defense ranked 25th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (256.7) and gave up 33 passing TDs, tied for the fourth-most in the league.
But several analysts predict a fierce market for Jones and a bidding contest that could turn Jones into the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback at perhaps as much as $16 million per year. The Giants and Eagles also are reported to be very interested in signing Jones.