After the Las Vegas Raiders had six first-round picks over the last three years, general manager Dave Ziegler decided to skip the first round this year. Though he’s a new commodity and had nothing to do with the team’s last three drafts, it might be for the best that the team didn’t make a pick early. Two of those six first-round picks are no longer with the team and only one of them has been to a Pro Bowl.
Ziegler had some big decisions to make this offseason as 2019 first-rounders Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram all had fifth-year team options. After being the No. 4 overall pick, Ferrell was mainly a backup defensive end last season. Jacobs made the Pro Bowl in 2020 but has dealt with injury issues over his first three seasons. Abram has a ton of tenacity on the field but has major coverage issues and has suffered significant injuries in two of three seasons. It may not come as much of a surprise but the Raiders have decided to decline the fifth-year options for all three.
“The Raiders have decided not to pick up the fifth-year options on Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram. We look forward to working with all three players and we will evaluate each situation individually moving forward,” Ziegler said in a statement.
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Could Raiders Regret Declining Jacobs’ Option?
Out of the three, Jacobs was the only one who had a real shot at getting his fifth-year option picked up. It would’ve cost the Raiders around $8 million next season, which is more than reasonable for a top running back. However, Ziegler came from the New England Patriots and they have never been known to pay running backs.
He hasn’t always followed the Patriots playbook since getting the Raiders job but this move shows that he might not value running backs as highly as some other general managers do. Regardless, the team could live to regret declining Jacobs’ option. He had a rough start to the 2021 season but stepped up late in the season and the Raiders don’t make the playoffs without him. His injury issues are concerning but he’s a team captain and plays hard. He could be in for his best year yet under new head coach Josh McDaniels. If he returns to Pro Bowl form, it’s going to cost more than $8 million a year to keep him.
Do Ferrell & Abram Have a Future With Raiders?
Jacobs could still have a future in Las Vegas but things are murkier for Ferrell and Abram. The Raiders brought in Patrick Graham to take over as defensive coordinator and it remains to be seen what he thinks of the two players. Ferrell likely has the best chance to stick around. He could play defensive end in 3-4 sets and can even move inside. He’s not a great pass rusher but can provide support in the run.
Abram was a good fit in Gus Bradley’s defense as a box safety but Graham runs a very different defense. He might not have a role for Abram unless he moves him to linebacker. His coverage issues aren’t going away so there’s a chance he will only play on early downs next season.