When running back Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants came to an agreement recently, the focus shifted back to a familiar face. We’re referring to Las Vegas Raiders star Josh Jacobs, obviously. With JJ8 still mid-holdout, both his absence and the situation with several NFL running backs are omnipresent topics. Although Jacobs isn’t at camp, one player there is Brandon Bolden, who was candid about what’s going on in the NFL right now.
Brandon Bolden, Josh Jacobs, the state of NFL RBs isn’t looking good…
Whether Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler values the running back position like you and I do or not is an interesting conundrum. When you look at the big picture, Jacobs had a tremendous 2022 season individually. Still, the Raiders won just six games. If the Raiders could only muster a handful of victories with Jacobs at his best, what’s his true value in the eyes of Ziegler and Co.? He’s a captain and commands respect; just ask Davante Adams what he means to the squad. That being said, the Raiders are still open to negotiating with Jacobs, according to reports out there. Until something happens, Jacobs will remain incognito.
With or without last year’s rushing leader, the Raiders press forward. The stable of running backs in Henderson is an interesting, if not intriguing, mix of players. Among them is Bolden, a former New England Patriot who has made his way to the Silver and Black. Familiarity with Ziegler and Josh McDaniels aside, Bolden is keenly aware of what’s going on in the NFL. While speaking to the press this week, he laid out some hard truths.
“We play this game, and we put our lives on the line a lot of the time. And as one of my old former coaches would say, ‘When you carry that ball, you carry the fortune of the entire team, the entire organization, on your back.’ And so, we carry the brunt of that burden every time we go out there. We do a lot; it’s not just me; it’s not just one or two backs. When you look at the whole spectrum of things, running backs do a lot of stuff. We block, we catch, we run, and we do a lot. So, that’s neither here nor there; I’m here to play football. I’m a special teamer at the end of the day, and I’d love to see the position get what they deserve and just go out there and have fun and play football.”
Times are changing for NFL running backs, Josh Jacobs isn’t excluded…
Brandon Bolden is right; his position was once the most valued on the field. They literally “carried” their teams, and they still do to an extent. Despite the shift to a pass-heavy league, establishing the run still dictates much of the flow; even in McDaniels’ system, the running game is pivotal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the Raiders will be in a rush to pay Jacobs.
Just as Bolden points out, running backs do a little bit of everything, Jacobs included—and he does it well. Even after playing the preseason opener this time last year, Jacobs went on to prove why the Raiders should’ve extended his fifth-year option. Owner Mark Davis himself has publicly praised Jacobs, but that doesn’t mean he’ll remain a Raider. Both can be true.
If you really want to put a bow on all of this, Bolden is right; running backs deserve to get paid, but general managers around the league disagree. They’ll pay them contingent on how they value them; shelf life plays a huge part in all of this. Maybe this is just where the game’s headed. Who knows, maybe the running back position isn’t being devalued at all.
Instead, there could be a bigger problem at hand. Alex Monfreda, deputy editor here at The Raider Ramble, shared an interesting notion recently with me. What if the problem isn’t this “devaluation” at all? Rather, the true issue is that running backs aren’t being scouted properly. Maybe teams don’t know how to properly gauge the position, leading to many of the issues we’re seeing right now with the position. Either way, it doesn’t seem like teams will be itching to give running backs top deals anytime soon.
*Top Photo: Getty Images