The Raiders have made the first big splash under their new leadership.
Las Vegas is finalizing a deal with four-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Chandler Jones that will pay him $52.5 million over three years with $34 million in guarantees, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.
In what cannot be seen as anything other than a corresponding move, the Raiders are expected to trade edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Rapoport also reported. The Colts announced the deal later Wednesday.
Jones has been courted by a number of players on different teams across the NFL primarily via social media, but he took his time in deciding on a destination. He landed on Las Vegas, where he'll be expected to replace Ngakoue in what was one of the NFL's most productive edge-rushing tandems in 2021. The Raiders also released veteran defensive end Carl Nassib and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski on Wednesday, per Rapoport and Pelissero.
After bouncing between Minnesota and Baltimore in 2020, Ngakoue enjoyed a remarkable bounce-back season in 2021, breaking double digits in sacks for the first time in his career since the 2017 season that saw him reach the Pro Bowl. Ngakoue finished third among all defenders in total quarterback pressures in 2021 with 71, trailing only Cincinnati's Trey Hendrickson and Raiders teammate Maxx Crosby, who led the league in the category with 82, per Next Gen Stats.
Jones was also productive per usual, recording 10.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and 41 tackles in 15 games last season. He stormed out of the gate in 2021, recording five sacks in Arizona's Week 1 win over Tennessee, and finished tied for 20th in quarterback pressures with 49 while missing two regular-season games. His performance was enough to earn another Pro Bowl nod and attract a lengthy deal even at 32 years old.
Jones has recorded seven seasons of double-digit sacks in his career, which began with the New England Patriots as a first-round pick out of Syracuse in 2012. He'll aim to continue being the same effective edge rusher in Las Vegas, where the Raiders hope to return to the postseason after earning a wild-card berth in the final week of the 2021 season.
Ngakoue will head to Indianapolis and join a defensive front that also includes 2020 first-team All-Pro selection and two-time Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner, and promising rusher Kwity Paye. Meanwhile, the Raiders will receive a reinforcement in their secondary in Ya-Sin, who has yet to play a full season in his three-year NFL career but has steadily improved with each campaign.