They always say that it’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. Many of us were tearing our hair out and screaming to the heavens after an absolutely disastrous start to the free agency period, but Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has quietly gone on about his business, and with a number of incredibly deft moves, has rebounded in a very solid fashion.
Bringing in players like Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and Tarrell Brown will most definitely upgrade a Raiders defense that was absolutely abysmal last season. Adding Austin Howard and Kevin Boothe will likely improve an offensive line that couldn’t keep their quarterbacks upright last season.
Needing some offensive weaponry, McKenzie went out and got some, picking the pockets of his old team by pulling receiver James Jones from Green Bay Packers and signing him to a three-year deal.
The ink wasn’t dry on the contract yet when articles started flying about how the Raiders missed the mark with the Jones signing. Most point to the fact that Jones is not a “true No. 1” receiver — and to be fair, he’s not. But it’s making a huge assumption that McKenzie brought Jones in to be the team’s No. 1 receiver in the first place. Jones brings a lot to the table in terms of experience and veteran leadership, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s the top receiver.
The Raiders have one of the younger receiving corps in the NFL. Andre Holmes and Denarius Moore are the old men of the group, and both of them have just three years of NFL experience apiece. Rod Streater, the team’s leading receiver last year with 60 receptions for 888 yards, has just two years of service.
All three of the Raiders’ receivers have showed flashes of greatness. They’ve shown that they can be an amazing unit. In time, they could be one of the most lethal receiving corps in the league — if they can learn to be consistent. The trio of Raider receivers have shown that they desperately need some veteran guidance and leadership to maximize their potential. James Jones brings that to the table.
Providing leadership and letting the younger guys learn from his experience will be invaluable to their development, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be expected to carry the entire passing game, or that the Raiders have higher expectations of him than they do of Streater, Holmes and Moore, or that he’ll fail to live up to any perceived expectations.
Right now, Streater is the closest thing the team has to a true No. 1, and having the ability to learn from a receiver as experienced and savvy as Jones will vastly benefit his development.
The Jones signing was a deft and savvy stroke. It’s one that will provide a spark for the offense, light a fire under the receiving corps, and provide whoever ends up under center with a solid, reliable target. It’s difficult to see the downside of adding such a valuable piece to the offense.