no one would have blamed joseph jacobs if you choose not to play. On January 3, his son Braxton discovered Jacobs’ father, Marty, in pain at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and called paramedics. Jacobs flew back to his hometown that night to be there for Marty, who had to have open-heart surgery the next day.
He raiders they were preparing for their last game of the season against the bosses, but there really wasn’t much left to play given that Las Vegas was 6-10 and had already been knocked out of playoff contention. It would have been more than okay if Jacobs had chosen to stay with his family, but instead he flew back to Las Vegas the night of Jan. 6 and was cleared in time to play Kansas City on Jan. 7.
Jacobs couldn’t prevent a Raiders loss to the Chiefs, but his mere presence was a testament to his level of commitment to the franchise, the coaching staff and his teammates. Going into an offseason where his contract was expiring, there was no mistaking how much he cared.
It felt cold when the Raiders franchised Jacobs two months later instead of giving him a contract extension, but putting emotions aside is the nature of business in the nfl. When it comes to building their roster, teams have to do what they think is smart, not what they think they should do. And in recent years, most teams have assessed that giving running backs a lot of money isn’t a smart move.
That alone makes the Raiders allow the Monday deadline to extend the franchise-tagged player pass. without signing Jacobs to a new deal easy to understand. And, from a general standpoint, extending Jacobs just doesn’t fit into the Raiders’ reconstructed timeline.
What’s next for Jacobs, Raiders after the franchise tag deadline passes?
When general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels were hired last January, they believed the Raiders were just steps away from contending. They inherited a team that was coming off a 10-7 record and had nearly stunned the bengalis in the postseason, which eventually made it to the Super Bowl. That’s why they made a blockbuster trade for star receiver davante adamssigned edge runner chandler jones and granted extensions to key contributors to that 2021 team, such as maxx crosby, Derek Carr, Darren Waller and Renfrow Hunter.
The seeds of the Raiders’ situation with Jacobs were planted when they decided not to take the fifth-year option on his contract worth around $8 million for the 2023 season. Zamir White in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft and then faced Jacobs in the first preseason game, gave a clear signal that Jacobs may not be in his long-term plans.
To be fair, there was reason to doubt that Jacobs ought to have been at that point since he had just finished the worst season of his career. He still scored nine touchdowns and had 1,220 yards from scrimmage, but battled numerous injuries throughout the 2021 season and finished with just 872 rushing yards while averaging 4.0 yards per carry. The Raiders doubted him and Jacobs responded strongly.
Jacobs made the leap from good player to elite in 2023. He rushed for an NFL-high 1,653 yards, averaged 4.9 yards per carry (16th) and scored 12 rushing touchdowns (T-5th) behind a line patchwork offensive. . He also showed growth as a pass catcher with his career-high 400 receiving yards, which helped him lead the league with 2,053 yards from scrimmage. He also overcame durability concerns by playing every game for the first time in his career and staying on the field for a career-high 75 percent of offensive snaps.
The 25-year-old was a stabilizing force in a locker room caught in the middle of a tumultuous season under a first-year coaching staff and was elected team captain after games had already begun as a mark of respect for his efforts. Jacobs didn’t shy away from the media either, being incredibly candid when the season went off the rails and having no problem taking the heat that came along with it.
Jacobs has done everything you can ask of a player both on and off the field, he is in the prime of his career and arguably the best player in his position. Yet despite his herculean efforts, the Raiders were still an unsuccessful team last year. It may not be fair, but it reflects why there is a cap on the position value.
“The hope is that we can do something longer than that,” McDaniels said in March after Jacobs was tagged by the Raiders franchise. “I mean, that makes sense to everyone. If we can do that, that would be my hope as a coach. Look, when you have a player like him, it makes all the difference and he clearly led the league in rushing last year and did a very good job for our team. So I really don’t know how the rest of the league values those things. Those things sometimes change pretty quickly depending on who you’re talking about and how good the players are, but we’ve got a good one, and I look forward to working with him again and hopefully we can do something.”
That did not come to fruition. Still, the Raiders certainly want Jacobs on the roster, but giving him the treatment he’s looking for is hard to justify with the team’s position. After failing last season, the Raiders released Carr, replaced him with Jimmy Garoppolo and made a series of conservative moves in free agency and the draft. Last year, they bet on winning right away. Now, they are trying to balance competitiveness with building for the future.
“That’s the tightrope we’ve tried to balance since we got here: make some strategic moves that we feel would allow us to compete, but not mortgage the future,” Ziegler said in February. “Because everybody wants to say, ‘Are you going for it or are you going to blow it all up?’ Obviously, from a fan perspective, that’s one of the prevalent themes that exists in the league. And it’s like, ‘Well, I’m trying to figure it out in half.’ Because I think that’s where our team is right now. And I know it’s like a buzzword: there’s always an element that you’re rebuilding different parts of your team.”
The Raiders are still figuring out what they want to be, which would make paying a running back a ton of money an odd move. His rationale for maintaining the franchise tag with Jacobs is hard to fathom. At the same time, Jacobs can’t be faulted for being upset, sit outside of OTAs and plan to skip boot camp. While the Raiders are probably making the wiser decision not to give it to him, he absolutely deserves an extension and is taking a stand to prove himself.
The question is how far is Jacobs willing to go. Since he’s not under contract, he won’t be fined for missing training camp practices, preseason games or even regular season games. In theory, he could request a trade or go as far as opting out for the entire season. It’s hard to see Jacobs pass up around $10 million in salary, and it’s also against his competitive nature to miss games while he’s healthy, but it can’t be ruled out.
For the Raiders, that would be a disastrous result that would potentially cause reverberations throughout the locker room, shut out one of their best players and, of course, negatively affect their ability to win games. By not extending Jacobs, however, they say that’s a risk they’re willing to take.
(Top photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
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