ALAMEDA — The Oakland Raiders signed special teams standout Taiwan Jones to a three-year extension on Monday that keeps him under contract through 2017.
Jones still had one year remaining on his rookie deal but was allowed to negotiate an extension for the first time this offseason.
General manager Reggie McKenzie kept a speedster originally picked by late owner Al Davis who emerged as a top special teams player after struggling to make it as a running back.
Jones is a Bay Area native who is active in the community and very popular with Raiders fans.
“I was excited when they came to me about the extension,” Jones said. “It is definitely a blessing for a local kid to be part of the Raiders turnaround. I’ve been an underdog all my life, so I think it’s very fitting for me to remain here. I’m definitely excited about it.”
Jones was originally selected by Oakland as a running back in the fourth round in 2011 out of Eastern Washington after running a 4.33-second 40-yard dash before the draft. That speed and 2,955 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns in two seasons as a running back in college led Davis to select him.
But Jones struggled with injuries and ball security his first two seasons. He had 22 carries for 94 yards and four catches for 36 yards and averaged 18.7 yards on 10 kickoff returns as he struggled to find a role in the NFL.
The Raiders moved Jones to cornerback last season but he did not play on defense. Jones made his impact on special teams, where he was credited with 13 solo tackles and two assists. Oakland heavily promoted Jones for the Pro Bowl but he did not make the team.
“It’s rare to see and to know that my local team wants me to stay home, and it’s just a blessing,” he said. “I’m glad to be part of it, happy to remain here and there are big things coming that I am happy to be part of it. I feel good about next year. Obviously, I was able to do a lot of good things on special teams last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the Pro Bowl last year, but that is something I’m shooting for this year.”
Jones also got some time at running back last season because of injuries and finished with five carries for 23 yards and two catches for 55 yards.