Raiders News: RB Josh Jacobs

So, Now What For Josh Jacobs? Examining Options For The Raiders RB

The Las Vegas Raiders’ standoff with running back Josh Jacobs has been a hot topic as of late. That was especially true on Monday. Reports surfaced that Jacobs took his ball and went home, both literally and figuratively. Much of the chatter has been about what the Raiders should do or what they should have done. But what about the Star running back? What are his options, and what’s best for him at this point?

Option 1: Josh Jacobs signs the tag and plays

Jacobs signs the tag and plays, which is simple enough. That is the ideal resolution from the perspective of the Raiders. From Jacobs’ point of view, the situation is a bit murky.

There are two benefits to playing on the franchise tag. The first is that he would be due $10.1 million. Also, it would give him a chance to build his case for a big payday next offseason. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

On that second point, Jacobs has already demonstrated his value. He won the rushing title in 2022, and the Raiders still refused to pay up. There’s not much more he can do. Additionally, the Raiders do not have to extend him next year either, as they could tag him again for about $12.1 million. Finally, if Jacobs did play this year, he would be one snap away from a serious injury. That could squash any negotiating power he currently has.

Option 2: JJ8 could sit out the season…

This has become known as “pulling a Le’Veon Bell.” The former Steelers and Jets running back infamously sat out the entire 2018 season when Pittsburgh used the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive year. That was a highly controversial move at the time, and one that Bell now regrets.

While Bell did sign a four-year, $52 million ($27 million guaranteed) contract with the Jets, his play went downhill fast, and he lasted less than two seasons. After that, he earned just one more contract, for about $1 million. One could argue that although it did not work out, Bell still made the right choice. He could have played on the franchise tag in 2018 for about $14.5 million, had a catastrophic injury, and never gotten paid again. While it seems unlikely, that’s exactly what happened to Earl Thomas that same year. Lucky for him the league still values safeties to an extent, and he got a decent contract.

However, Jacobs’ situation is a bit different. For starters, the franchise tag price for running backs has dropped significantly over the last five seasons, despite the salary cap skyrocketing over that same time. Also, Jacobs is only in his first franchise tag season, whereas Bell was in year two. Bell had much more leverage because in year three, teams have to either pay 144 percent of the previous year or whatever the quarterback franchise tag number is ($23.2 million in 2018, $32.4 million today), whichever number is greater. Obviously, no team is going to pay high-end quarterback money for a running back. Jacobs would have to sit for two years with no pay to reach that point. Hard to argue that it would be worth it.

Option 3: Sign the tag, but “hold in”

This is where we get to the more creative options. Basically, what Jacobs would do in this scenario is sign the franchise tag, which would allow him to collect his money but then magically become “unavailable.” He would milk phantom “hamstring issues” or “back spasms” all year and not actually play. NBA point guard Ben Simmons has essentially written the book on how to do this. While this is a somewhat shady tactic, there are some real benefits, as you’ll see.

The biggest one is that it would allow Jacobs to get paid without risking injury. Also, he would avoid putting any more “miles on the tires,” so to speak. This is an apt euphemism since the league treats running backs more like used cars than actual human beings. Finally, if Jacobs went this route for an entire season, it is unlikely that the Raiders would tag him again the following year, and he would likely be guaranteed to hit the open market in 2024.

There are some downsides to this as well. While Jacobs’ injuries would technically be a ploy, you better believe that teams would hold the fact that he missed a full season “due to injury” against him in any future contract negotiations. Also, using such a tactic would likely burn all bridges with the Raiders and possibly be a turn-off to other teams as well—it’s simply not a good look.

For the “hold-in” to work, Josh Jacobs would have to show up, look his teammates and coaches in the eyes, and tell them, “I cannot practice or play because I’m hurt,” while he and everyone else at the team facility know that it’s all malarkey. He would have to do that every day for a full season. Going down this path would be a bold move.

Option 4: Hold out and demand a trade

This is very similar to the second option, but with a minor caveat. Rather than commit to sitting out the whole season, Jacobs could tell the organization (and the rest of the league) that he would only sign the franchise tag if the team agreed to trade him. One important thing to note here is that the Raiders cannot trade Jacobs until he signs the tag. Vegas would essentially have to agree to terms with another team first, then Jacobs would have to sign the tag, and then the trade could become official.

One thing that works in Jacobs’ favor here is that the franchise tag essentially functions as a no-trade clause. The 25-year-old ball carrier could give the Raiders a list of teams that he would be willing to play for and refuse to sign the tag if they tried to trade him anywhere else. This would allow him to be traded to a contender. He may feel better about playing on a one-year deal for a team chasing a Super Bowl ring than for a Raiders team that is a long shot to even make the playoffs this year.

While this sounds like a great idea, there is no guarantee that it would work. The Raiders would have no obligation, and little urgency, to trade Jacobs since they could simply tag him again next offseason. Plus, the front office would have very little leverage in any trade negotiation if Jacobs was refusing to play for them and only willing to play for a select few teams. The Silver and Black brass would be lucky to even get something close to the paltry compensation that the Carolina Panthers received for Christian McCaffrey last season.

If the Raiders don’t trade him before the deadline, Josh Jacobs would have to either play out the season for the Raiders, forfeiting about half a season’s worth of game checks, or sit out the rest of the year and make nothing.

What should Josh Jacobs Do? Will the Raiders budge?

First, let’s rule out the second option. Given that the Raiders can hold him hostage on the franchise tag for up to two years, there is little upside to sitting out. If Jacobs were to find himself in this situation again next year (he very well could), then it might be a more viable option. For now, we will take that one off the table.

Among the other three choices, there is no clear winner. The first option provides a lot to gain financially but comes with the risk of injury. Option number three is the safest financially, but it risks permanently damaging his reputation. The fourth option carries a similar risk-reward tradeoff to the first one but comes with an extra financial risk in exchange for a chance to go ring-chasing. At the end of the day, the one Jacobs goes with will come down to what his values are. We are going to learn a lot about who he is in the coming months.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

Join The Ramble Email List

error: Nice Try!
Subscribe to RaiderRamble

Get updates from RaiderRamble via email:

Join 6,101 other subscribers