There weren’t too many surprises from the Las Vegas Raiders‘ preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The offensive line predictably struggled, many of the top players sat out and Josh McDaniels looked in control as a playcaller. The biggest thing that stuck out involved running back Josh Jacobs.
The former Pro Bowler and first-round pick started the game and played in the first two series. Teams don’t usually have key starters play a lot of snaps in preseason games, especially when a lot of other players are out. This has led to some suggesting that Jacobs could be on a different roster when the season starts.
A few analysts pointed out that they believe that the Raiders played Jacobs in an effort to gauge trade interest in him around the league.
After the game, McDaniels said that he only played Jacobs because he believes that running backs need some more reps in the preseason than other positions. Time will tell if that was true based on if Jacobs is on the roster when the season starts.
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Why Would Raiders Trade Jacobs?
Barring a big offer, trading Jacobs right now doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Raiders. He’s a very good running back when healthy and looked good in the preseason opener. He’s also only due $2.1 million in base salary which is a very low price for a player of his caliber. Plus, he’s off the books after the season.
Rookie fourth-round pick Zamir White could have a bright future but suffered two torn ACLs in college. Why rely on an unproven rookie when you have a proven commodity on a good contract? The only way a Jacobs trade should happen is if the Raiders get a really good offer. It’s possible that a team with their eyes on the playoffs suffers an injury at running back and gets desperate. A situation like that could yield a strong return for Las Vegas. Anything less than a third-round pick for Jacobs seems like a bad trade unless the Raiders know something that isn’t public information.
How Confident Are Raiders in White?
Barring an All-Pro season from Jacobs, this is likely his last year in Las Vegas. There are too many signs showing that the Raiders aren’t interested in keeping him long-term. A promising rookie season from White would only make that decision easier. He’s a lot cheaper and is under contract for the next four seasons.
New general manager Dave Ziegler has shown a willingness to pay big money to a lot of players but there’s no reason to believe he feels the same way about running backs. Teams don’t like paying running backs big contracts anymore and it appears Jacobs could be the latest casualty. He recently said he wants to stay with the Raiders long-term but it might be up to him. He’d need to show that he’s a significantly better option than White going forward for the Raiders to consider paying him.