Raiders Predicted to Let Former 1st Round Pick Hit Free Agency After Season

josh mcdaniels

Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.

The Las Vegas Raiders have been big spenders on not only new players but returning ones, as well. Derek Carr and Maxx Crosby have both recently received big-money contract extensions. They aren’t going to be the last two looking for a new contract in the near future.

Hunter Renfrow will be a free agent after the season so he should be priority No. 1. Darren Waller is under contract through 2023 but he’s only making $7.45 million a year. He’s going to want to substantial raise. Next on the list would be running back Josh Jacobs, who is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract. The Raiders won’t entertain an extension quite yet but they do have a big contract decision to make soon.

As a first-round draft pick, the team has a right to exercise a fifth-year option that will keep him under contract through 2023. While Jacobs has been a good player and a Pro Bowler, new head coach Josh McDaniels might not love the fact that he’s missed six games in three seasons and been limited due to injury in many more. Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report is predicting that the Raiders will not pick up Jacobs’ fifth-year option worth $8 million this offseason:

On the surface, $8 million isn’t that big of a cap hit. According to Spotrac, it would be the 11th-highest for a running back in 2023.

Given the big-money contracts that were given to Derek Carr and Davante Adams, though, it’s hard to see the Raiders paying up at the running back position. Jacobs is a talented back, but with expensive skill players on the roster already, the Raiders could opt to seek cheaper options.

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Raiders Would Be Making a Mistake to Decline His Option

$8 million for a running back who has shown he can be one of the best in the NFL is more than reasonable. There are eight running backs in the NFL making over $10 million next season. Now, the New England Patriots never got too attached to running backs during McDaniels’ time there. It’s not a smart position to invest heavily in.

That said, picking up the fifth-year option is not a huge financial commitment. McDaniels has always had a strong running game with the Patriots and he’s going to want to replicate that in Las Vegas. If Jacobs returns to rookie form, he’s one of the toughest runners in the league. Declining his option would mean risking him having a huge season and demanding more money than $8 million a year.

Could Jacobs Earn a Big Extension After the Season?

McDaniels has already offered plenty of praise for Jacobs since taking the job. He likely was a reason McDaniels wanted the Raiders job. Jacobs proved again towards the end of last season that he can be one of the team’s most impactful players. They don’t make it to the playoffs if he doesn’t single-handily close out the season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers with a few big runs.

That said, paying a running back is a risky proposition. With so much money tied up with other players, the Raiders will likely wait and see how this season plays out before thinking about a Jacobs extension. At the very least, Las Vegas will go against Ballentine’s prediction and give the running back a fifth year.

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