On February 24th, the Oakland Raiders signed cornerback Taiwan Jones to a three year contract extension worth $4.355 million. The former running back carved out a prominent role on special teams, using his blazing speed to cover kicks and punts.
Jones did not play a single defensive snap in 2013, but did play 12 snaps of offense when injuries decimated the running back corps. He also became the primary kick returner, but did nothing spectacular. Jones has shown his 4.3 speed, but could never do anything with the ball in his hands, which is why Dennis Allen moved him to corner.
Jones is scheduled to make $645,000 in 2014, along with an $855,000 roster bonus and a $50,000 workout bonus. For 2015-2017, Jones will make $1.1 million alongside a $50,000 workout bonus each year. Also added is a $100,000 Pro Bowl incentive in every year of the contract, which speaks to what the Raiders see as his potential.
This year both his teammates and Dennis Allen thought so highly of Jones’ special teams coverage, they were lobbying for him to be voted to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player. The organization feels similarly to include that incentive.
While signing a special teams cornerback to an extension may not seem big, it demonstrates that Reggie McKenzie is now starting to identify foundation players. While he may not impact the game like a franchise quarterback might, he is a talented player. Special teams can be the base of a good team and can be built on as a foundation.
The extension also allows Jones to continue transitioning to cornerback without pressure to perform defensively. Being a special teams ace, the Raiders can let him make his own impact for the team, and sprinkle him into the game when they choose.
Signing Taiwan Jones might not be the move Raiders fans wanted first, but it’s a good sign for the team moving forward.