7:15pm: The Vikings also put in a claim for Jones, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. The Raiders landed the cornerback by virtue of having higher waiver positioning.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifer wonders if Akayleb Evans‘ calf injury influenced Minnesota’s claim. The Vikings cornerback exited Sunday’s win, leading Mekhi Blackmon to see more playing time and secure the first interception of his career.
3:20pm: Although Mark Davis cut ties with the Patriot Way leadership he hired just last year, the Raiders will be the team that gives recent Patriots cut Jack Jones a second chance. Jones will head to Las Vegas after the team submitted a successful waiver claim, per NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo.
While this is yet another ex-Patriot joining the now-Antonio Pierce-led roster, he arrived as a 2022 draftee — after Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler were in Nevada. The Pierce tie is more relevant here than the Patriots component. Pierce has an extensive background with Jones, having coached him in high school (at Long Beach Poly) and in college (at Arizona State). This past made the Raiders a natural suitor for Jones, who the Patriots waived after multiple benchings.
Pierce was head coach at the Southern California high school from 2014-17. This overlapped with Jones’ tenure. The 25-year-old corner was a five-star recruit coming out of Long Beach Poly. While he signed with USC, off-field issues led him to the junior college ranks. By the time the 5-foot-11 corner was back on the Division I radar, Pierce was in place as Arizona State’s linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator under Herm Edwards. Jones signed with the Sun Devils in 2019 and fared well enough to warrant a fourth-round draft investment.
The Patriots drafted Jones in 2022 and used him as a regular. Jones played 54% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps last season; Pro Football Focus rated him 17th overall among corners. This year has proven rockier for Jones — on and off the field. PFF rates Jones outside the top 100 at the position, and the talented cover man has only played 121 defensive snaps in his second season.
An accumulation of performance-related issues and other matters contributed to Jones’ New England exit, per SI.com’s Albert Breer. Bill Belichick still referred to Jones as a talented player, via the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed, and The Athletic’s Jeff Howe adds the Pats did not view Jones as a bounce-back candidate this season. The team benched Jones in Week 9, along with J.C. Jackson, and used him on just 10 defensive plays in their Germany matchup. Belichick had said the Pats were not planning to bring Jones back on the practice squad, had he cleared waivers. While that is a moot point, the Raiders are taking a chance on a corner with notable baggage.
Jones was booted off the USC squad for academic reasons, leading to him playing at Moorpark (Calif.) College for the 2018 campaign. That season, Jones was arrested following an incident at a Panda Express, and he served 45 days of house arrest after pleading guilty to commercial burglary, which is a second-degree misdemeanor. In June, Jones was arrested on a number of charges in connection with bringing two loaded guns to an airport and attempting to board a plane. A deal with prosecutors led to the charges being dropped, but Jones still began the season sidelined, suffering a hamstring injury in an early-September practice.
The Raiders rebooted at corner this offseason, letting 2022 starters Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett walk in free agency. The team took a few fliers in the spring, but none became regulars. Marcus Peters, who signed during training camp, leapfrogged the spring additions. Ditto Jakorian Bennett, who went from fourth-round rookie to starter. But the Raiders benched Bennett, using third-year defender Amik Robertson opposite Peters. Robertson, however, left the Raiders’ Week 10 game with a head injury.
Jones has worked primarily as an outside corner as a pro. He finished with two interceptions, a forced fumble and six passes defensed as a rookie. The Pierce-led Raiders would seemingly represent Jones’ best chance to salvage his NFL career. The 5-5 team will give him that chance.