Once the Las Vegas Raiders wrap up the draft, the next big item on the agenda is what to do with running back Josh Jacobs. The NFL’s leading rusher was hit with the franchise tag but would like a long-term deal. He has said that he’d like to stay in Las Vegas but contract negotiations with running backs can get ugly.
Jacobs has put out a couple of cryptic messages this offseason and didn’t show up to the Raiders’ voluntary offseason program. It’s possible he’s not very happy with the fact that he doesn’t have a new contract. He even previously said that he would be coming back as a villain if he didn’t get paid. However, he may not have been overly serious when he said that. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, Jacobs is actually excited about negotiating his next contract and hasn’t soured on the team yet.
“At the Pro Bowl, Jacobs made the comment that it would be a case of ‘hero turned villain’ if he was franchise-tagged, but sources say he was half-kidding and that he is looking forward to seeing how negotiations go and to how the Raiders roster looks after the draft,” Tafur wrote.
What Could Jacobs’ Contract Look Like?
This update from Tafur is good news. It doesn’t appear Jacobs is ready to go to war with the Raiders quite yet. He’s going to remain patient and likely start really fighting for his next contract after the draft. What works in the team’s favor is that Jacobs doesn’t seem to care about being the NFL’s highest-paid running back, per Over the Cap. Giving huge contracts to running backs has worked against teams in recent years so if Jacobs hopes to stay with the Raiders, he shouldn’t have too high of expectations.
The best contract Jacobs could be looking at might be in the $12 to $13 million range. Christian McCaffrey is the league’s highest-paid running back at $16 million a year but there’s no way the Raiders are paying Jacobs that much. It’s more likely that he gets a contract comparable to Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook. They are all making more than $12 million a year but less than $13 million. Jacobs is looking at something in that range if the Raiders are going to keep him. Now, if he decided to play on the franchise tag and came back to lead the NFL rushing once again, he could be looking at an even bigger payday. While playing on the franchise tag is never ideal, Jacobs is in a solid position right now.
Will the Raiders & Jacobs Come to an Agreement?
The Raiders appear motivated to sign Jacobs long-term but that could be a smokescreen. General manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels both come from the New England Patriots, which is a team that never paid running backs. The Raiders may be more interested in having Jacobs play on the franchise tag, running him into the ground and hoping Zamir White will be ready to take over in 2024.
Jacobs is a beloved teammate and fan favorite so that might not sit well with the team. It will be very interesting to see what they eventually decide.