I’ll say this about Josh Jacobs: in everything he seems to do, he’s a man of principle and conviction, but unfortunately for the Las Vegas Raiders that’s bad news for the spot they currently find themselves in.
For the uninitiated, running back Josh Jacobs is currently in the midst of a holdout, meaning he hasn’t shown up to training camp and seemingly has no plans to do so. This all stems from the decision the Raiders made to place the franchise tag on Jacobs — a one-year deal that is fully guaranteed upon signing but which removes most of his leverage to negotiate. Both sides did have a window within which they could try to work out a long-term deal, but the deadline for doing so has come and gone, which leaves everyone in the spot they are today.
So how might this all play out?
My bold prediction: Josh Jacobs will not be suited up in Silver and Black for Week 1
While fellow disgruntled running back Saquon Barkley threatened to hold out before signing an incentive-laden deal, I have my doubts that Jacobs is interested in doing the same simply because of the impact it would have on his fellow running backs. A couple of weeks ago, many of the top running backs in the NFL hopped on a Zoom call to discuss the state of the position and more specifically, their complaints about how they are compensated.
While many probably felt justified in venting or complaining, very few have any power to really do something about it — with Jacobs being one of them given his status as an unsigned player. Not only that, he’s coming off of a season in which he led the league in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage — and at 25, he’s far from the end of his prime (even for running backs).
So what are his options?
Now that the window for negotiating a long-term deal has closed, they’re admittedly limited. He can choose to sign the tag (obviously), negotiate on the details of the one-year deal (i.e. a promise he won’t get tagged again, additional incentives, etc.), demand a trade (he would still be playing under the tag, just for a different franchise) or simply sit out. If he sits out past Week 10, then he would not be eligible to play this season and would forfeit an entire year’s worth of salary. It’s also worth noting that even if he sits out the entire year, the Raiders could choose to franchise tag him again in 2024 and go through this whole dance again.
The most likely outcome here is that Jacobs does play for the Raiders in 2023, but it’s simply a matter of when he decides to show up. The longer he holds out, the longer his point is being made — albeit with some debate about who, exactly, he’s sticking it to — and he also gets to skip the wear and tear of training camp as well.
While I think Jacobs suits up for the Raiders this year, I really do believe he’s prepared to miss games, and think that’s how this whole situation ends. I bet he signs for the full amount (with a promise not to be tagged again) but does so after missing a regular season game or two in hopes of proving his point. Another scenario is that he demands a trade and has that request granted — I think the Raiders are going to be bad this year, so if you can move Jacobs for a Day 2 draft pick it would be hard to pass up given the state of the roster.
Regardless, I think Jacobs is somewhere other than in Denver on September 13 when the Raiders kick off the season — and Las Vegas will be worse off for it.