Raiders Josh Jacobs & Josh McDaniels

Are The Raiders Really Going To Pay Josh Jacobs?

Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs is holding out from off-season activities with the Las Vegas Raiders as a result of receiving the franchise tag this year.

Reports indicated that Jacobs was seeking an extension from Las Vegas, with no desire to receive the franchise tag. Jacobs has all but confirmed those reports by not showing up to attend off-season activities with the Raiders. Several of Jacobs’ fellow superstars, Maxx Crosby and Davante Adams, are already at the facility putting in off-season work. To be fair, Crosby and Adams are the highest-paid players currently gracing the Raiders’ roster.

The question remains: Will the Raiders sign Josh Jacobs to an extension? Or is he possibly leaning toward holding out for the entirety of the 2023 NFL season?

New league trend: Don’t pay running backs

The running back position in the NFL is not for the faint of heart. These athletes put a tremendous amount of wear and tear on their bodies; considerably more than their counterparts at wide receiver and tight end. Josh Jacobs, operating as a running back, is [more] likely to be tackled by 300 lb defensive linemen. Conversely, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is often going to be taken to the ground by 180-200 lb cornerbacks. Running backs are in the trenches putting their bodies on the line, sometimes for a single yard just to secure a first down.

One of the current trends in the NFL is based on a popular mantra; “don’t pay running backs big money.” The rest of the league took notice after both the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys signed their bell-cow running backs – Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot – to massive extensions.

Shortly after, both declined noticeably.

Elliot, for example, was awarded a six-year, $90 million dollar contract in 2019. That season, Elliot averaged 4.5 yards per carry and rushed for 1,357 yards with 10 touchdowns. By 2022, Elliot was averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per carry, totaling a career-low 876 rushing yards. At only 27 years of age, Elliot’s lack of burst and explosive speed was on public display. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was widely criticized for giving Elliot such a generous contract, considering the average career for a running back in the NFL is 2.57 years.

The league appears to be trending in the direction of drafting quality running backs that are either extended at a lower price, or replaced by rookies and younger free agents. Giving a large contract to a running back is something general managers do not seem interested in doing anymore.

Does Josh Jacobs deserve an extension with the Raiders?

The highest-paid running backs for the 2023 season are seen below.

  • Christian McCaffrey – San Francisco 49ers, $16 million
  • Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints, $15 million
  • Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings, $12.6 million
  • Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans, $12.5 million

Josh Jacobs is set to earn approximately $10 million dollars on the franchise tag this upcoming season.

The difference between what Jacobs and Henry are being paid looks minimal, but there are key differences. Jacobs will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024, hitting the open market for the first time. Another difference is Henry, for example, had the security of a four-year contract worth up to $50 million with half being guaranteed money,

Besides the stability of a long-term deal, Jacobs had an incredibly successful 2022 season. Now, the 25-year-old likely believes he should be paid accordingly.

Jacobs led the league in rushing yards with 1,653, totaling the second-most carries (340) and 12th-most touchdowns (12). The fourth-year running back also posted a career-high 4.9 yards per rush. With a season like that, it’s easy to make a case for why the Raiders’ back should be amongst the highest-paid running backs in the NFL.

The question is whether or not general manager Dave Ziegler agrees enough to sign Josh Jacobs to a long term extension.

What Raider Nation needs to know about the franchise tag

At this time, Jacobs can talk to outside teams interested in giving him a deal. The caveat to the franchise tag is that if he does receive an offer, the Raiders can opt to match it. If Jacobs agrees to go elsewhere, Las Vegas would receive two first-round picks.

The date to keep an eye on is July 17, 2023; the deadline for franchise tagged players to sign an extension. If there’s no extension by this time, we’ll watch to see if Jacobs reports to training camp at the end of July.

It would be a huge loss for the Raiders if the league-leading rusher elected to sit out for the season. Your move, Josh.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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