The Las Vegas Raiders and Indianapolis Colts are ringing in the new league year with a pretty splashy trade. As CBS Sports NFL senior reporter Jonathan Jones confirms, the Raiders are shipping out pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Colts in exchange for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin in a player-for-player swap. This trade also came in the immediate aftermath of Las Vegas reaching an agreement with free-agent outside linebacker Chandler Jones on a three-year deal that is reportedly worth roughly $51 million.
This move continues the arms race in the AFC West, while the Colts land themselves another solid pass rusher to work alongside DeForest Buckner along its defensive line. So who came out on top of this trade? Below, you'll find our grades for both the Raiders and Colts.
With the Jones signing and Ngakoue trade essentially happening in lockstep, you have to pair the two moves together when assessing what Las Vegas did. Jones, 32, is an upgrade over Ngakoue, 26, from an on-field standpoint, albeit with Jones being the elder statesman of the two. According to Stephen Oh of SportsLine's projections, the addition of Jones over Ngakoue increases the Raiders' chances of reaching the playoffs by 3.4%
After being limited to just five games in 2020, Jones went right back to being one of the most prolific pass rushers of his generation, finishing this latest campaign with 11 sacks and 47 total pressures, according to pro Football Focus. His 87.7 pass-rushing grade in 2021 was also the second-best of his career. When you consider Jones now slated to work opposite of fellow Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby, that should pose problems for what is a loaded division at quarterback with Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, Justin Herbert in L.A., and now Russell Wilson in Denver.
Meanwhile, they land a former second-round pick in corner Rock Ya-Sin to help the secondary. He'll be 26-years-old by the start of next season and turned in a solid 2021 season in Indy. According to PFF, he allowed a reception percentage of just 56.5% while opposing quarterbacks had a 93.4 passer rating against him, which were the best totals of his career. He also logged seven pass breakups.
For the Raiders, they upgraded at one of their pass-rushing spots and were able to add a young corner to their secondary, which should be looked at as a positive with this division continuing to add offensive firepower.
While we say that Chandler Jones is an upgrade over Yannick Ngakoue, that's not to slight the new Colts pass rusher. Indy graded as the 18th best pressure unit in the NFL last year, per PFF, which is a spot that they should improve upon with Ngakoue now in the fold. The former third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft will only be 27 by the start of next season, so there is plenty of room for him to possibly jump to an even higher level of play. His age also jives nicely with Buckner, Darius Lenoard, Bobby Okereke, and Kwity Paye for Indy to construct a front that they can grow with for the foreseeable future.
The club will need to replace Ya-Sin -- played 54.1% of the defensive snaps in 2021 -- in some capacity, but still have Kenny Moore as its No. 1 corner, so a minor addition in free agency or via the draft may only be what the team needs there.