It hasn’t been a great offseason for Josh Jacobs. The former first-round pick saw his fifth-year option declined and the Las Vegas Raiders draft his possible replacement in 2022 fourth-round pick Zamir White. After his rookie season, Jacobs looked like the next great NFL running back. He was robbed of the Rookie of the Year award and broke 1,000 rushing yards.
His sophomore season was also solid as he broke 1,000 rushing yards again and was named to the Pro Bowl. 2021 was Jacobs’ weakest year since entering the NFL. He finished with just 872 rushing yards and was banged up for much of the season despite only missing two games. With Jacobs entering a contract year, he needs to show that he can return to rookie form for the Raiders to consider re-signing him.
According to quarterback Derek Carr, Jacobs is taking this offseason very seriously. He believes the running back will single-handily help the Raiders win games.
“Josh is someone I’m very excited for,” Carr said on NFL Network. “He’s someone who’s working extremely hard to get in the best shape that he can be in because he knows that with all these weapons, maybe he’ll have a lot of games where teams are just gonna say, ‘Well, all right, Josh, you beat us.’
“Who knows? Who knows what could happen? One thing I know is these Raiders, these guys, they’re working their tails off to try and put a good product on the field, and that doesn’t guarantee wins, but it gives us a better chance.”
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Is Jacobs’ Fate Sealed?
Jacobs has an uphill battle facing him this season. Former head coach Jon Gruden was a big fan of the running back and almost certainly would’ve at least given him a fifth year. New head coach Josh McDaniels comes from the New England Patriots, which is a team that never pays running backs.
McDaniels is his own man and so is general manager Dave Ziegler. It’s still possible they’ll divert from Bill Belichick’s model. However, the team has already given big money to Kolton Miller, Carr, Hunter Renfrow and Davante Adams. Plus, they still have to pay star tight end Darren Waller. There might not be enough money to justify giving a good contract to a running back.
Jacobs Needs a Big 2022
Just because Jacobs may not see another contract from the Raiders doesn’t mean he can’t still get paid. He’ll be auditioning for the entire NFL this season. The Raiders may not want to pay a running back but there are plenty of teams that will. He just needs to show his value this season.
Jacobs averaged just 4.0 yards per carry last season and 3.9 the season before. That’s not good enough for a star running back. He needs to get that number closer to 5.0 yards a carry. The Raiders’ offensive line could improve this season, which will only help Jacobs. That said, if the offensive line still struggles, he’s just going to have to figure out how to be effective.