Posted on: July 26, 2023, 11:55h.
Last updated on: July 26, 2023, 12:07h.
Josh Jacobs, the All-Pro running back from the Las Vegas Raiders, will hold out of training camp due to a contract dispute. He was spotted leaving Las Vegas and he’s expected to sit out of the entire preseason or, possibly, longer.
Jacobs led the NFL in rushing last season, but the league’s top rusher won’t report to training camp.
The Raiders slapped a franchise tag on Jacobs when they were unable to reach a contract extension this offseason. Jacobs doesn’t want to play under their tender offer, and he’s willing to miss the preseason to force the Raiders to renegotiate.
The Raiders, when they still played in Oakland, selected Jacobs with a late first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Jacobs was a standout running back with Alabama and led the Crimson Tide to a national championship during the 2017 season.
During his first four seasons in the NFL, the 25-year-old Jacobs earned two trips to the Pro Bowl. He passed the 1,000-rushing mark three times with the Raiders and tallied 40 rushing touchdowns in 60 games.
The durable Jacobs appeared in all 17 games last season. He rushed 340 times for 1,653 and 12 touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also added 53 receptions for 400 yards.
NFL Leading Rusher to Skip Preseason
Running backs are no longer earning what they used to because the NFL offenses put more emphasis on the passing game than a traditional run-first offense that was the norm during the first half-century of the league’s existence.
Three running backs fell under franchise tags by their respective teams this off-season. Tony Pollard from the Dallas Cowboys, Saquon Barkley from the New York Giants, and Jacobs were unable to work out contract extensions by the deadline.
Both Pollard and Barkley will play under the franchise tag this season and earn a base salary of $10.091 million. Barkley avoided holding out when he signed a one-year deal with the Giants before training camp began on Tuesday.
Jacobs is now the lone holdout, and could possibly sit out the entire season. He has leverage due to his skills on the gridiron. In 2022, Jacobs became the first running back from the Raiders to win a rushing title since Marcus Allen in 1985.
During the 2022 season, Jacobs led the league with 2,053 total yards from scrimmage. Since he entered the NFL in 2018, Jacobs is fourth overall in rushing yards and tied for third in rushing touchdowns.
The Raiders were 5-1 last season in games where Jacobs rushed for more than 100 yards. That’s a significant stat considering the Raiders were only 6-11 last season. In each of their six wins last season, Jacobs carried the ball at least 20 times.
McDaniels Respects Jacobs
Jacobs thinks he’s worth much more than the franchise tag salary, and he’s willing to sit out training camp as a last-gasp negotiating tactic. He’s also bitter that the Raiders declined a fifth-year option on his contract back in 2022, which is why both parties reached this unfortunate impasse.
Head coach Josh McDaniels has publicly backed his star running back.
I respect every player’s right to do what’s right for them,” said McDaniels. “I respect him tremendously. I have a great deal of respect for him as a player and a person. What he did for our team last year — and I look forward to seeing him whenever he is here. And I respect that process too. It’s his decision to make.”
Veteran running back Melvin Gordon, currently a member of the Baltimore Ravens, shared some advice with Jacobs about skipping the entire season.
“If you’re going to hold out, just hold out until maybe like the end of camp,” said Gordon. “I definitely wouldn’t hold out and miss any games because you’re not going to get that $10 milly back.”
If Jacobs decides to hold out for the entire season, then McDaniels will have no choice but to lean on veteran running backs Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden. The Raiders also have Zamir White on the roster, who was a fourth-round pick out of Georgia from the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Raiders have other options, as well. They could rescind the franchise tag, and Jacobs would become a free agent able to sign with any other team. The Raiders could also explore trade options, but Jacobs would have to be under a contract for that transaction to happen.
Betting the Long Shot Raiders
Oddsmakers don’t think the Raiders will have a winning season in 2023 with a projected win total of 6.5 over/under. With Jacobs, the Raiders will be hard-pressed to win more than six games. Without Jacobs, the Raiders will face an excruciating season ahead of them.
The Raiders are -475 odds to miss the playoffs, according to a prop bet from Draft Kings. They are +380 odds to make the playoffs.
The Raiders are +6500 odds to win Super Bowl LVIII, and +4000 odds to win the AFC Championship.
The AFC West is a tough division that includes the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are the betting favorite to win the AFC West at -165 odds, followed by the Los Angeles Chargers (+340), and Denver Broncos (+550). The Raiders finished in third place in the AFC West last season, but they’re the long shot to win the division at +1200 odds.
The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo to play quarterback after they parted ways with Derek Carr. They’ll need Jacobs if they expect to compete with the Chiefs, who are the team to beat in the West once again. Chargers are expected to have a strong season after quarterback Justin Herbert is 100% healthy. Sean Payton is the new head coach of the Broncos, and quarterback Russell Wilson is looking to bounce back from a subpar 2022 season.
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