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Raiders receivers: Is Zay Jones ready to be counted on?

Report suggests journeyman is posed to take the next step

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Las Vegas Raiders
Zay Jones
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many eyebrows were raised (mine included) when the Las Vegas Raiders brought back wide receiver Zay Jones in free agency.

It was particularly puzzling that the Raiders gave Jones $2.5 million in guaranteed money and a $1.1 million raise from last season. The Raiders seemed crowded at the position and, frankly, Jones did little with the Raiders since being traded from the Buffalo Bills in 2019, to warrant a new contract.

Yet, it’s clear the Raiders see something in the veteran. Recently, Vic Tafur of The Athletic suggested that Jones may be ready for a bigger role in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Well, isn’t that interesting?

Jones had 14 catches or 154 yards in 2020. He barely made a ripple in the offense. In 26 games with the Raiders. Jones has 34 catches. Again, there has been nothing to suggest that the 2017 second-round of the Bills is ready to become anything more than marginal player.

Yet, maybe the spotlight is coming for Jones, who is 26, as he enters his fifth NFL season. Usually at this point, we know what a player is. But of course, if Jones can take the next step then it will be huge for the Raiders’ offense.

However, the team’s wide receiver room is already crowded. We recently looked at the chances of undrafted wide receiver Dillon Stoner to make the team. Tafur reported that the Raiders expect the Oklahoma State product to make the 53-man roster.

I broke down the Raiders’ receiver crew and concluded that either Jones or Stoner would be the sixth receiver on a team that will probably not keep more than six players at the position.

There’s not much room for all of these receivers to make the roster and actually play. In the flow of a game, rarely do teams involve more than four or five receivers in a game.

This is a good problem for the Raiders to have. This is going to be a very interesting training camp and preseason at wide receiver to see how everything shakes out.