The Las Vegas Raiders are well-represented at this year’s Pro Bowl Games with five players selected to the AFC team. Running back Josh Jacobs may have been the most impressive of all the team’s Pro Bowlers in 2022. He led the NFL in rushing yards 1,653 and was named First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
While Jacobs was one of the best players in the league this season, the Raiders didn’t show much faith in him heading into the year. The running back had his fifth-year option declined, wasn’t named a team captain and was the subject of trade rumors. He responded by having the best season of his career. His presence on the team was so strong, that the Raiders captains went to the coaching staff and told them to elevate Jacobs to the role of a captain prior to the Week 15 game against the New England Patriots. He was happy to receive the honor but he isn’t buying that there wasn’t more to the decision.
“I feel like it was a lot of politics,” Jacobs told Heavy Sports when asked about the team’s decision to elevate him to the role of captain. “And that’s OK. It is what it is. New coaching staff … they gotta see who you are and feel who you are. I’m not one of them guys that talk too much. I just kind of handle my business. I guess it took them seeing it – how I played and how I went about each day for the team to come down and sit down and was like, ‘alright, this guy needs to be a captain.’ So it’s cool. It’s no hard feelings about it.”
Jacobs Explains What Led to Career-Best Season
Jacobs has been a solid player throughout his career and was close to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year as a rookie. 2021 was his worst year yet as he only rushed for 872 yards. The Raiders clearly didn’t have a lot of faith in him heading into the year but he proved them wrong. There were a number of factors that went into why he had such a strong year and he believes the offense that head coach Josh McDaniels installed helped but he believes that health played a big factor.
“I’m not gonna lie, I would definitely say the offense featured me good but I don’t think it had nothing to do with motivation,” Jacobs said. “I know a lot of people say, ‘oh, he’s playing harder because it’s the year’ and I don’t never think that way. At the end of the day, the only thing I really think about is being the best version of me. I think the only thing that was really different between this year and any other year that I’ve had was I didn’t really get any like nicks and bruises until like Week 12. So that was kind of like the biggest difference. Every other year I felt like I was playing with injuries and things like that. So that’s probably the thing in our credit the most.”
Big Decision for Jacobs & Raiders Looming
With the Raiders’ decision to decline Jacobs’ fifth-year option last year, the team will risk losing him in free agency. The team can always franchise tag him but they would risk alienating him. Jacobs has said he’d like to stay with the team but a lot can happen before free agency.
The Raiders will likely work hard to try and come to a deal on a contract extension. If not, there’s a strong chance the franchise tag will be used. That wouldn’t be a guarantee that Jacobs plays with the team again but it would at least allow them to explore trade options with a team that is more willing to pay him.