Breaking The Stalemate: Raiders, Josh Jacobs, and Dave Ziegler

Options For Breaking The Stalemate Between Josh Jacobs And Raiders GM Dave Ziegler

Josh Jacobs is at the crossroads of his NFL playing career. Exclusively franchise-tagged by the Las Vegas Raiders, he is scheduled to make $10.09 million in 2023. But what are his three long-term options? Sooner or later, the stalemate between Jacobs, the Raiders, and general manager Dave Ziegler has to end. The question is, how will it go down? We’ve got you covered.

Josh Jacobs could play out the year and hope to hit free agency…

In four years with the Raiders, Jacobs has produced 4,740 yards rushing and 40 rushing touchdowns. On the receiving end, Jacobs has recorded 1,152 yards through the air with a catch percentage of 80. The fifth-year veteran has been named to the Pro Bowl twice in his relatively young career. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2019 despite injuries. Also, he was fifth in Offensive Player of the Year in 2022. Plus, Jacobs received an Associated Press All-Pro designation. The knock against him is that he is a running back looking for his second contract and first major payday. A payday in a league that doesn’t feature many bell-cow backs.

On the open market, his accolades would demand a large amount of compensation from a suitor of his choice. An ideal situation for a player trying to maximize his earning potential while he has the opportunity. And let’s face facts: it’s highly unlikely another franchise would trade two first-round draft picks for his services. It would have already been done if that were the case. What also appears to be unlikely is Ziegler ponying up top-dollar for a running back.

One must wonder; with all the turmoil surrounding the team, why wouldn’t Jacobs want a fresh start with a boatload of cash? Why wouldn’t a man accustomed to winning at the highest level want to rid himself of a franchise that can’t get out of its own way? Since Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels are reluctant to reward the player who “exemplifies everything they are looking for in their players,” perhaps it’s in his best interest to not sign a long-term deal and bet on himself again.

Need a hero pay a hero…

“If you want me to come back and be the hero, you have to pay me like a hero.” -Josh Jacobs

The top-seven annual salary amounts for running backs in 2023 are all north of $11.5 million, which is more than the $10.091 million the league’s leading rusher in 2022 is scheduled to make. It wasn’t just on the ground where the former Alabama running back made his mark; he led the league in yards from scrimmage as well as being tied for the fourth-most combined rushing and receiving touchdowns.

Currently, the Raiders have replaced their starting and backup quarterbacks, tight ends, and No. 2 wideout. Hunter Renfrow may not be on the team for long, either. Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the team signed in free agency, is rehabbing a broken bone in his foot. Brian Hoyer couldn’t seize the job from two struggling young quarterbacks in New England, including Mac Jones who was brave enough to criticize the great Bill Belichick. Aidan O’Connell, a 2023 fourth-round draft pick, has no NFL experience. Should Garoppolo not be able to go, O’Connell is in line to be the Day 1 starter.

Until the Raiders’ quarterback situation is completely settled, they need Jacobs more than ever. His value to the franchise has never been higher. Paying him in excess of $14 million per year is the baseline for a hero on offense.

We know what Davante Adams is capable of; he is “Him” when it comes to the aerial attack. Even still, Adams in this offense is at his best when Josh Jacobs is eating.

Ring “Le’Veon’s Bell”

Bell was tagged twice and decided to sit out his sixth NFL season, forcing the Pittsburgh Steelers to release him. He promptly signed a huge four-year, $52 million-dollar deal with the New York Jets, but it wasn’t the same. He never made the Pro Bowl again, and the Jets released him after 17 games.

The moral of the story is that it is an option for Jacobs to refuse to play, although in no way, shape, or form has it been reported, hinted at, or intimated that he would do such a thing, However, nobody thought Antonio Brown would burn the skin off of his feet and refuse to pick a freaking helmet the league would approve of, either.

Again, let me reiterate that there has been no mention of sitting out in 2023 and forcing his release. Because it has happened with others in the past, it bears mentioning.

All eyes are on Dave Ziegler now…

Ziegler previously decided to make No. 28 prove himself. When Jacobs did just that, Ziegler took the easy way out.

By opting to place the franchise tender on Jacobs, Zeigler gets away with paying out a decent raise; certainly not the one Jacobs earned, but one that keeps the franchise’s costs down. For all the love, praise, and admiration Ziegler has showered on Jacobs, it’s time for him to put his money where his mouth is.

It seems hard to determine whether getting the bag from Ziegler is a gift or a curse. Technically, you could make an equal claim for both—for Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, Chandler Jones, and Derek Carr, it was a curse. The former two spent much of the year injured, and the latter were largely ineffective. All four had down years; two are no longer with the team, and one didn’t see any money from the long-term extension he agreed to in 2022. For Adams and Maxx Crosby, the money was properly invested. Those two difference-makers aren’t going anywhere.

Josh Jacobs is an interesting case—he will most likely get his money either way. Still, Dave Ziegler will want to get his roster incentives as well as a two-year golden parachute out of the contract.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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