Josh Jacobs is entering a pivotal year with the Las Vegas Raiders. The team didn’t pick up his fifth-year contract option earlier in the offseason so he’ll be a free agent after the season. The former first-round pick has been a key piece of the team’s offense since getting drafted in 2019 but his consistent injury issues have hurt his value.
A big thing working against him is the fact that the Raiders hired head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler in the offseason. They both come from the New England Patriots, which is a team that is known to not pay running backs.
Obviously, Jacobs would like the security of having another guaranteed year on his contract but he’s taken it in stride. He hasn’t talked about the contract situation until now and is using it as motivation.
“I had to be here either way … gave me more of a reason to come in every day and gel with the guys,” Jacobs told reporters.
Jacobs was a team captain last season so he can’t sulk while he’s on an expiring deal. The best way to handle things is to have a huge season so he’ll get a big payday next year.
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Jacobs Is Feeling Healthy Right Now
Jacobs has dealt with a number of injuries throughout his career. This offseason was no different as he was held out of organized team activities recently. Fortunately, he was ready to go when training camp started.
“I feel good. I feel pretty fast. It’s the beginning of camp,” Jacobs said.
A healthy Jacobs is one of the best running backs in the NFL. McDaniels loves to run the ball and will use Jacobs a lot if he can stay healthy. It’s a positive sign that he’s feeling good right now but the real test will be to see how his body holds up during the season. He’s yet to stay consistently healthy for a full season. If he can this season, he’ll be staring at a nice payday in free agency.
Kenyan Drake Feeling Healthy
Another running back entering a contract year is Kenyan Drake. Jacobs and Drake were supposed to form one of the league’s best running back duos but the latter broke his ankle in Week 13, which ended his season. Despite the nasty injury, Drake has recovered quickly.
According to Dr. Norman Waldrop, who performed Drake’s surgery, the running back is almost back to perfect health.
“I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but knowing Kenyan, I’d almost say 100 percent,” Waldrop said, via Tashan Reed of The Athletic. “And that’s because of Kenyan. You never want to say 100 percent, but knowing him, having the relationship that I have with him, knowing that he’s been through it before, I have every expectation that he’s gonna get to his pre-injury level. Last time he got hurt, when he was at Alabama, he had done the same thing: He met every milestone you could.
“He knows he can hit those metrics, so I don’t see Kenyan having any hesitation.”