The Las Vegas Raiders have begun the journey to Week 1 of the 2023 season with veterans reporting to training camp this week. While head coach Josh McDaniels eyes a better Year 2 with the Silver and Black, he can’t avoid the elephant in the room: Josh Jacobs’ absence. In fact, Jacobs is the talk of the whole league, case in point; Baltimore Ravens’ Melvin Gordon weighing in on the holdout.
All eyes are on Jacobs after New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley signed his franchise tag. Barkley will play on a one-year deal with a pay increase. Naturally, many people turned to see what all of that meant for Jacobs. However, there were no real changes to Jacobs’ situation. McDaniels, for his part, couldn’t escape the questioning surrounding his running back’s AWOL.
With the whole world tuned into the Jacobs saga, let’s dive into what’s buzzing around him.
Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels respects Josh Jacobs’ decision
Jacobs and Las Vegas were in contract extension talks this offseason, but no deal was signed. If the 25-year-old plays this 2023 season, it will be on the franchise tag, which explains why he’s not at training camp. With no long-term security, the Alabama product will likely skip most of the Raiders’ training camp to avoid injury during practice. There’s also no knowledge as to when Jacobs intends to return. Nonetheless, McDaniels understands why Jacobs has to think about himself.
“I respect every player’s right to try to do what’s best for them,” McDaniels told reporters Tuesday. “That’s why the league is what it is in terms of value and contracts, and those things are personal. We all have to go through them. I’ve said it multiple times this spring. I respect [Josh Jacobs] tremendously.
I have a great deal of respect for him as a player, as a person, what he did for our team last year, and I look forward to seeing him whenever he is here. And I respect that process, too. It’s his decision to make, and I know they all have to do what they think is best for them. Like I said, we all have to do those things in our lives, and I have a great deal of respect for him.”
Money comes first…
The Raiders star must think about his wallet first in this scenario. Jacobs has yet to earn that lucrative contract, as he’s coming off his rookie deal. Furthermore, the current NFL rushing champion might only have this current window to “secure his bag.”
Currently, the position is beginning to see the market for their production change right in front of their eyes. It’s also important to note that running backs have a short shelf life in the NFL and need to be firm regarding contract talks. McDaniels likely knows what the team lacks without Jacobs in the backfield, but this is the business side of the league affecting the on-field product.
Jacobs isn’t the first running back to hold out for money; in fact, a compatriot of his broke down how he sees all of this going down.
Melvin Gordon weighs in on Josh Jacobs’ holdout…
Gordon knows what Jacobs is going through with his holdout. The Ravens running back held out the final year of his rookie contract while with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019, an action he regrets.
So, when Gordon joined the “Up & Adams” show, the 30-year-old weighed in on what is happening with Jacobs’ holdout while speaking from experience. As a result, he warned his fellow running back about holding out once the season begins.
“I wouldn’t do it [hold out],” Gordon told Kay Adams. “If you [are going to] hold out, just hold out to maybe the end of camp. If you don’t want to get hurt, come back that week and get to it. But I definitely wouldn’t hold out miss any games. And he’s in a good place. I feel him, though, because it sucks, but they still keep the rights to you next year if you sit out the whole year.
“So regardless, it’s really a loss, and I don’t think with the running back sitting out, it hasn’t been good, really, for any of us besides [Ezekiel Elliott], you know. I don’t know if [Raiders owner Mark Davis] loves Josh Jacobs like Jerry Jones loves Zeke; that was a different bond, you know how he treats his players.”
Could Josh Jacobs lose his starting job?
The veteran laid out the good and the bad by holding out, especially if Jacobs misses games. Gordon’s holdout resulted in Austin Ekeler becoming a household name and taking his job with the Chargers. Now, who can become Ekeler on the Raiders and possibly take Jacobs’ job? All eyes might be on Zamir White and Brittain Brown.
Las Vegas drafter White and Brown in the fourth and seventh rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, respectively. If either player wants to be a starter, they must take advantage of this opportunity. The NFL is all about when an opportunity presents itself. It will be up to White or Brown to run away with it and possibly do to Jacobs what Ekeler did to Gordon in Los Angeles.
Losing his job might be enough to cause Jacobs not to continue his holdout once the games begin. Gordon had a disastrous 2019 season rushing for a career-low 612 yards. Jacobs should get back before the preseason is over to at least get live reps to build a rhythm. However, he can also gamble and slide in Week 1, so it will be interesting to see what Jacobs plans to do.
*Top Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images