A day to highlight special teams market

On a day the Oakland Raiders signed special teams ace Taiwan Jones to a three-year contract extension through the 2017 season, it highlights the market for valuable specialists.

It's a market in which Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater is one of the key figures.

Initial reports of Jones' deal indicate that he'll receive $4.355 million as part of the three-year extension. Because he had one year left on his rookie contract, it essentially amounts to a new four-year, $5 million contract.

That comes in below Slater, as it should, given Slater's standing as one of the NFL's premier special teamers. Slater's most recent contract, signed in the 2012 offseason when he was an unrestricted free agent, is a three-year, $5.4 million pact.

Slater is scheduled for free agency after the 2014 season and it already seemed to be on the mind of owner Robert Kraft when he spoke with reporters at the Super Bowl this year.

“We’re doing whatever we can to free up any money we can,” Kraft said. “[One reporter] has said we need some players on the offensive side. Other people say we need on the defensive side. We have a fellow like Matt Slater who is such an outstanding special-teams player, he’s a free agent coming up. So we have to balance a lot of things.”