Raiders RB Josh Jacobs

Wishy Washy: Long Term Status Of Raiders RB Josh Jacobs Is Precarious

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs has been carrying Josh McDaniels’ offense the last few weeks, a saving grace so far in a 2-4 season. Looking back in the offseason, it’s rather fascinating what took place with regard to the Raiders’ offense. Derek Carr, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller all received new deals. Meanwhile, Jacobs’s fifth-year option was declined. That led to much speculation surrounding No. 28, but the running back, to his credit, has made the most of it. Looking ahead, when you combine the awesome play of Jacobs with his contractual status, it leaves much to the imagination. In fact, it’s rather precarious.

Examining Josh Jacobs’ position

As most fans are aware of by now, Jacobs is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023. It boggles the mind right now to think that the most important player on the Raiders’ offense thus far isn’t under contract past 2022. However, when Jacobs’s option was declined, there were several schools of thought at play. First, there was the new regime that came into town. Dave Ziegler came from an organization that hasn’t historically dished out big money to running backs. Instead, while McDaniels was offensive coordinator, the Patriots relied on a committee approach, consistently rotating players at said position. Once Jacobs didn’t receive his option, some thought his fate was sealed.

Others point to Jacobs’ apparent statistical decline. He only amassed 872 yards on the ground last season, averaging four yards a carry. One would call these “average” numbers. Interestingly enough, Jacobs has battled through injuries throughout his entire Raiders career. Also, if you recall, in his final four 2021 games, Jacobs carried the team into the playoffs. Speaking of playoffs, Jacobs also rushed for 83 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals last January as well. It seems to be a double-edged sword for the Raiders in terms of what to do with Jacobs.

Should Dave Ziegler fork out serious coin for Raiders RB Josh Jacobs?

The value of the running back has steadily declined in the last decade or so. It’s a position where you can draft a good replacement basically every year. The days of a running back staying on the team that drafted him for eight, or even five, years are long gone. So, let’s say that Jacobs continues this hot streak the rest of the way. Given his current output, a ballpark figure of about 1,600 to 1,700 rushing yards ends up being his 2022 total. So, he gets a new contract, then, shortly thereafter, during the 2023 season, Jacobs goes down. It happens all the time. Running back is one of the most physically punishing positions on the field. At that point, the Raiders are on the hook for serious money. In the meantime, those resources could’ve been used elsewhere.

What about the franchise tag?

Ziegler has already demonstrated his willingness to spend money in his first season as general manager. It’s not exactly what you would call the “Patriot Way,” but the decision regarding Jacobs is going to test that theory. What if Ziegler were to use the franchise tag on Jacobs? No. 28 gets some nice compensation for his 2022 efforts without binding the Raiders to a long-term contract at the running back position. Monetarily speaking, the 2022 figure for the NFL franchise tag at running back was $9.57 million.

The conversation then shifts back to Ziegler. Are the Raiders willing to fork out upwards of $10 million for one season of Jacobs? That’s a lot of money for a position that carries a lot of risk. It’s even harder to justify that when the defense has so many glaring holes. Yes, next year’s NFL draft will surely provide some defensive reinforcements, but more will be needed. From a fan’s perspective, it’s an emotional response to want to see the Raiders pay Jacobs. Unfortunately, Ziegler has to keep the financial health of his team as one of his main priorities. The team drafted Zamir White and Brittain Brown this past April and, if they choose to, could draft another late-round running back.

The final move would be to let Jacobs walk, in which case, the Raiders could receive a compensatory third round selection. Fans could then argue that neither that third-round pick nor any of the aforementioned running backs will have the same impact as Jacobs. It’s going to be a tough decision all around. Ziegler is trying to build a winner, but Jacobs, for all intents and purposes, wants to get paid. And let’s face it, he’s earning that right with his play this season.

Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams Have Historical Day For Raiders

*Top Photo: AP Photo/David Becker

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