Packers $48 Million Free Agent Star Predicted to Be a ‘Likely Bust’

Packers signee Josh Jacobs

Getty Packers signee Josh Jacobs

While there certainly is consternation about the departure of much-loved veteran running back Aaron Jones, the hope of the Packers is that new running back Josh Jacobs will quickly make Packers fans forget the sting of No. 33’s departure. He has the talent.

Jacobs also figures to fit in well as a locker room personality. He was a leader with the Raiders and can fill the shoes left by Jones in that regard. It helps, too, that he is familiar with some members of the staff and team, including beloved special teams coach Rich Bisaccia.

And he’s not afraid of the cold, either. That’s got to win over some Packer fans reluctant to welcome him.

“Oh, as a running back,” said Jacobs, “you love playing in the cold because people don’t want to hit you. Then after a while you start to wear on them, and it makes it a lot easier. I think if I was another player, I might be like, uhhhhh, but as a running back I love it.”

Still, there are questions about the Jacobs-Packers marriage. For Sports Illustrated, in fact, the view is especially negative: Analyst Gilberto Manzano of, in a post titled, “2024 NFL Free Agency: 10 Most Likely Busts,” writes that Jacobs will be one of those “busts” in Green Bay.

Packers’ Jordan Love ‘Doesn’t Need a Workhorse Back’

There was surprise when the Packers gave the former Raiders star a four-year, $48 million contract that comes with $14 million guaranteed up front. It’s somewhat of a deceptive deal because the Packers have an out after each season, meaning Jacobs is playing for his supper in all four years.

That might make some sense for a running back playing alongside a middling quarterback like Aidan O’Connell or Gardner Minshew. But Manzano’s issue is more one of how Jacobs fits with Jordan Love and what should be a pass-happy Packers offense.

“This move, however, doesn’t make sense from a personnel perspective and a budgeting standpoint,” Manzano wrote.

Jordan Love wasn’t in need of a workhorse back. The team could have paired AJ Dillon, who re-signed on a one-year, $2.7 million contract, with a rookie or another veteran running back without having to commit $14 million. The Packers are on the rise with Love and a handful of promising pass catchers. Now they need to find a way to get Jacobs heavily involved, possibly disrupting the chemistry from last season.”

Josh Jacobs Struggled in 2023

No question, Jacobs ranks among the best backs in the NFL. He led the league with 1,653 yards rushing in 2022, and also led the league with 87.2 yards per game. He was an All Pro and a Pro Bowler that year, with a career-high 4.9 yards per carry. The Packers would welcome that version of Jacobs.

For Jacobs, 2023 was a different story, though. The Raiders offense was a mess for the early part of the season under Josh McDaniels, and only marginally improved when McDaniels was replaced on October 31 and replaced by Antonio Pierce. After taking over, Pierce vowed to get Jacobs the ball consistently, and his production rose, but his yards per attempt did not get much better.

Jacobs finished the year with a career-low 3.5 yards per attempt. That number was 3.1 before Pierce and 3.9 after him, an improvement but hardly a complete transformation. It could be that, even at the young age of 26, Jacobs has lost a step.

If there is reason to question whether that’s the case for Jacobs, the fact that he missed the final four games of the season with a quad injury and was replaced by second-year man Zamir White is a good starting point. White ran for 397 yards in those four games, and averaged 4.7 yards per carry—with the same offense Jacobs had in front of him.

Suggesting Jacobs will be a bust for the Packers is harsh. But it’s possible.

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