There are several impending free agents for the Las Vegas Raiders that they will likely let walk this offseason but Josh Jacobs shouldn’t be one of them. The two-time Pro Bowl running back led the NFL with 1,653 rushing in 2022 and is poised to get a big payday in the coming months. If the team decides not to use the franchise tag on Jacobs, he’ll have a big decision on his hands.
He’s said that he would like to return to the Raiders but he also showed a lot of frustration with the team’s losing ways during the year. Once he sees what’s out there, it might be appealing for him to sign with a team that’s consistently in the playoffs. Unpromoted, Jacobs took to his verified Twitter page and tweeted a message that simply said “it gotta make sense for me.”
The running back frequently tweets out cryptic messages that have nothing to do with football. However, he followed it up with another tweet that said his original message was “more” about life but also football.
With free agency still several weeks away, it’s difficult to know what exactly Jacobs is referencing but he clearly hasn’t completely made up his mind about returning to the Raiders.
Will Raiders Use Franchise Tag on Jacobs?
Jacobs may end up not having much say on where he plays next season. The Raiders can use the franchise tag on him, which would only pay him $10.1 million next season, per Over the Cap. That’s not a steep price to pay for arguably the best running back in the NFL.
Giving running backs long-term contracts has fallen out of fashion in the league but Jacobs is only 24. He’s also coming off a season where he was able to stay mostly healthy. He played all 17 games while taking on most of the team’s running back workload. If Jacobs was older or had bigger injury concerns, then it would make sense for the Raiders to franchise tag him and see if he can sustain success. The fact that he’s still young should motivate the team to pay him now. If he has another big season, he’ll only be more expensive in 2024. Jacobs proved to be one of the most valuable players on the team and was named First-Team All-Pro. Not signing him to a long-term deal would be a big blow to the offense.
Jacobs Among Top Free Agents
If Jacobs does hit the open market, there should be plenty of interested teams. The running back is an elite player and has strong leadership ability. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 13th-best player in all of free agency:
Jacobs’ 91.9 rushing grade in 2022 ended up as the top mark at the position, and his cumulative 93.2 rushing grade over his first four seasons ranks behind only Nick Chubb, with his 267 missed tackles forced over the span ranking first and his 118 explosive rushes coming in at fourth. All the while, he’s picking up 71.4% of his rushing yards after first contact — a top-25 figure among qualifying running backs.
While he’ll never be known as a receiver or pass blocker, he’s a net positive in both facets for his career, giving him true workhorse value like we’ve seen this season in Las Vegas. Jacobs has been a major beneficiary of his fifth-year option for 2023 not being exercised by this new regime.