There are still two weeks remaining in the 2022 NFL season, and Raiders RB Josh Jacobs has already exceeded his previous career-high in scrimmage yards. By a lot, in fact. "A lot" being 592 scrimmage yards, to be exact.
The team declined Jacobs' fifth-year option back in April, and he's given them every reason to regret it ever since. To date, he's averaging 102.6 rush yards per game. He's averaging a career-high 5.0 yards per rush attempt. He ranks second among running backs in yards after contact (only behind King Henry) and leads the NFL with 83 missed tackles forced. Most importantly, perhaps, he's in line to win his first NFL rushing title. Ahead of Week 17, Jacobs leads the league with 1,539 rush yards — 110 more than King Henry, currently sitting in second place.
The former first-rounder will hit free agency in 2023... which begs the question — will he return to Las Vegas?
If we're reading between the lines, the answer is probably "no."
The Raiders signing Jacobs to a long-term extension feels unlikely at this point. They already indicated their willingness to move on by declining his fifth-year option.
Could they apply the franchise tag? Maybe... but it doesn't feel like they would. At least, it wouldn't make a ton of sense for them to, considering the aforementioned declined fifth-year option. See, that fifth-year option would have guaranteed Jacobs a salary of $8.034 in 2023. If they chose to apply the franchise tag, his salary would likely be in the range of $10.1 million in 2023, according to CBS Sports' projections.
Would they really be willing to eat another $2 million just to rectify their previous mistake? I feel like the answer is no... not while they've got bigger issues (*cough* Josh McDaniels *cough*).
Reading even further between the lines, why would this team continue to run Jacobs into the ground if they wanted to protect his body for the future? There are only two running backs to have seen 15 or more rush attempts in 12 or more games this year. One of them is Josh Jacobs. If they were ready to pay the man, they'd probably have more interest in limiting the miles on the tires, especially after acquiring one of the league's premiere wide receivers, no?
One of my favorite potential fits for Jacobs is the Atlanta Falcons. Cordarrelle Patterson is on a one-year deal. Rookie RB Tyler Allgeier has been extremely solid this year, close to eclipsing 1,000 scrimmage yards, but he's got fifth-round draft capital which is always a red flag in terms of longevity.
Or, how about the Kansas City Chiefs? They're currently projected with the 12th-most cap space in the 2022 and 2023 NFL seasons. They have their franchise quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, who can play hero ball regardless of who's at wide receiver. They've got exciting pieces on defense in Chris Jones, Nick Bolton and company... why not make a run at an RB averaging just under 100 scrimmage yards per game against your franchise?
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