Throughout the first three years of his NFL career, Josh Jacobs showed flashes of being one of the best running backs in the NFL. The former Las Vegas Raiders first-round pick rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons but took a step back in Year 3 when he rushed for just 872 yards. He bounced back in a major way in 2022 as he won the NFL’s rushing title with 1,653 yards.
One of the players he beat for the rushing title was Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. The two have a relationship due to the fact that they both played college football at Alabama. Henry isn’t upset at all about Jacobs beating him in rushing yards this season. He had a message for the Raiders running back.
“Proud of Josh,” Henry said on the January 12 episode of the “Bussin’ with the Boys” podcast. “He worked for it. Went crazy. Got to watch his game against the 49ers, which is probably the best defense in the league. He was killing them. Didn’t have a lot of yards, but he was going crazy. Very proud of Josh. I think he earned everything he got this year. I know they didn’t pick up his fifth-year option this past year, so I know that was motivation.
“Proud of Josh, man, and, you know, RBU, Bama built, Roll Tide. You know what it is. Najee Harris, Kenyan [Drake] doing his thing, Mark Ingram’s been holding it down for a while. Proud of them boys.”
Is Jacobs the Best RB in the NFL?
There are some great running backs in the NFL right now. Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb and Tony Pollard all have strong arguments that they’re better than Jacobs. However, the young Raiders star currently holds the crown as the best running back in the league.
Not only did he lead the league in rushing, but he also led all players in total yards from scrimmage. While stats can be misleading, the analytics back him up, as well. Jacobs was the highest-rated running back in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. He was also named First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press and NFL Players Association. For now, he’s the best running back in the league and he’ll try to retain his crown next year.
Raiders Likely to Retain Jacobs
As Henry noted, the Raiders declined the fifth-year option on Jacobs’ contract heading into the 2022 season. In hindsight, that was a big mistake by the team as now they’ll have to pay him a year early. That’s good news for Jacobs as he’s hitting free agency fresh off of the best season of his career.
If the Raiders hope to keep him, they’ll have to pay him a lot of money or use the franchise tag. Right now, the franchise tag seems like a likely option if they can’t reach an agreement on a long-term contract. Jacobs has said that he’d like to stay with the Raiders and Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal says there’s a “100%” chance that he stays put. The only concern is that Jacobs might not be happy if they place the franchise tag on him. That could hurt the team’s chances of ever reaching a long-term deal. It’ll be a difficult situation for the team to navigate.