The Oakland Raiders have extended the contract of one of their key players, giving Taiwan Jones a three-year extension to stay with the team until 2017. While most Raiders fans anxiously await news on the status of the two biggest free agents on the team, defensive end Lamarr Houston and left tackle Jared Veldheer, this is a signing that could go somewhat under the radar despite its importance.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) February 24, 2014
Taiwan Jones, a former running back out of Eastern Washington, was moved to cornerback last season in an effort to find a way for him to contribute more from a base position. But in part it was due to the fact that the Raiders knew that Jones has a ton of value on special teams so if they can find a way for him to contribute more on offense or defense, it would be a huge bonus for the team.
But even if Jones is never able to secure playing time as a cornerback or running back, his value to special teams would be nearly impossible to replace. With his combination of elite speed and quality form tackling, Jones has made a name for himself as one of the best gunners in the league. And while for fans, special teams play can be anything but special to watch, the impact cannot be understated. In addition, Jones began to look like he was getting a hang of the return position late in the season, an area where he could excel given his speed. This only adds more value to a guy who plays an often forgotten but incredibly important position.
Field position battles in football can be equally as important as offensive and defensive battles. The Raiders have always shown their belief in the importance of special teams by drafting guys like Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler. Their decision to commit to Jones, despite his inability to contribute on offense or defense, shows that the franchise will continue to place a high value on special teams play.