Raiders RB Zamir White, Now What, Josh Jacobs?

With Josh Jacobs Out (For Now), Are Zamir White And Brittain Brown The Raiders’ Dynamic Or Dilapidated Duo?

Zeus and Brittain—it sounds like two characters in a Monty Python movie, doesn’t it? No, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the Las Vegas Raiders‘ top two running backs right now. Noticeably absent is bell cow running back Josh Jacobs.

Zamir “Zeus” White and Brittain Brown, two tailbacks taken in the fourth and seventh rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, respectively, are slated to lead the stable of halfbacks when the entire team reports to team facilities in Henderson on July 25 for the start of training camp. They’ll be joined by veterans Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah, Austin Walter, and fellow youngster Sincere McCormick.

You’ve probably heard by now, but if you haven’t, the franchise-tagged Jacobs and the Raiders didn’t agree on a new contract by the NFL-set deadline. Now the team and player can’t negotiate a new deal until after the Raiders’ season is over.

Jacobs hasn’t signed the franchise tag tender, which will pay him $10.1 million this coming season, and is likely to skip training camp altogether. It remains to be seen if he’ll ink the tender and play in Week 1.

Now, there are conflicting reports regarding the negotiations.

Some say the deal was close to fruition, while others say it wasn’t close and Monday’s effort by the Raiders was a bad-faith attempt to save face.

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but, frankly, I don’t give a d***.

Because in the end, Jacobs isn’t locked in with the Silver and Black with a new contract. Las Vegas didn’t dole out a long-term big-money deal, and Jacobs didn’t devalue himself by accepting anything less than his worth. Kudos on both sides.

A player must chase as much coin as they can get. A team must try to get talent for bottom dollar. It’s a wicked game, but that’s NFL business.

Josh Jacobs isn’t the Lone Ranger in not getting a new deal.

Two other franchise-tagged tailbacks—the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley and the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Pollard—didn’t come to terms either. Meaning that, like Jacobs, Barkley and Pollard will have to wait until their respective seasons are over before they can re-enter negotiations with their respective teams.

There’s one very curious thing to mention about Barkley and the G-Men. Folk are quick to point out that both Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler, who has the final say on the team’s roster, and head coach Josh McDaniels are steeped in the New England way, and Patriot Games calls for not shelling out coin for running backs. The belief is there’s eventual churn at the position, and starters can be found in free agency, in the draft (early, in the middle, or late), and after the draft in undrafted free agency. The commitment of substantial cap resources doesn’t happen often at the running back spot in the Patriot Way.

But guess who was also assimilated into the Foxborough Fixation? Giants head honcho Brian Daboll. He spent nine seasons with the Pats. So the New England Method is now the G-Men Method, too?

Could be a coincidence, but…

Several questions remain with JJ8 and the Raiders

Will he report for training camp? It’s highly unlikely. Why would Josh Jacobs risk injury? Especially considering he isn’t subject to any fines during the duration of training camp.

Will he be on the field for the Raiders’ regular-season opener? We don’t know the definitive answer until that time arrives on September 10.

Will he sit out the majority or entirety of the 2023 season? That possibility can’t be dismissed. While skipping out on the whole campaign will be good for his body, it can kill his value as the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league. And personnel folk will quickly forget Josh Jacobs was the 2022 rushing champ come next offseason.

And the big one: How will the Raiders players in camp and team facilities react to the perceived dismissal of the contributions Jacobs made to the team? We already have that answer, folks. When a previous Raiders regime shipped out the uber-popular Khalil Mack. There wasn’t a mutiny then, and there isn’t going to be one now. And no amount of blue baseball hat emojis will change that, no matter how vigorously pressed by a keyboard, whether physical or cellphone digital boards.

Will the current crop of Raiders running backs suffice?

The Raiders have no choice but to find out. Las Vegas made its bed, and now it must sleep in it. Can White and Brown rise to the occasion? Ditto with Bolden, Abdullah, Walter, or McCormick? Potentially. One can’t dismiss it as impossible. But one can’t proclaim it as possible, either.

Especially with Zeus, who has the size, speed, and power—but despite having the skill set for a classic one-cut-and-gone runner, White appeared to lack the vision and patience in his rookie year. He ended up running into the back of his offensive lineman way too often and didn’t wait for creases or gaps to appear, or, like Jacobs did in tremendous fashion, showcase his ability to make defenders miss and make his own openings and dart through them.

Brown was the more patient and opportune runner in preseason last year but didn’t get a single carry as veterans Bolden and Abdullah earned special teams snaps, relegating the UCLA product to inactivity for most of his rookie year.

The Raiders coaching staff likes McCormick, who was a workhorse bruiser at USTA. He’s only 22 years old and is a stout 5-foot-8, 205-pound downhill runner.

Someone will have to seize the moment, and the opportunity is there for the taking. White and Brown are likely to get the first crack at it.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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