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Josh Jacobs’ future: Examining his fascinating contract process

Star tailback is going to cash in big time.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The immediate question regarding Las Vegas Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs is whether his injured calf will allow him to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

But there is a bigger picture issue with Jacobs — his future. And everyone is thinking about it. After Jacobs turned the NFL upside Sunday with a 86-yard touchdown in overtime to give the Raiders a 40-34 victory, social media was abuzz, talking about Jacobs’ impending run into free agency.

Jacobs’ contract status was even at the top of mind with his teammates in the immediate moments after the big win, in which Jacobs ran for a team single-game record 229 yards.

You are connect, Davante Adams, JJ is about to get paid. But it begs the question: Where? While Raiders fans can’t imagine Jacobs wearing another uniform next year, the reality is that it is possible.

We all know the backstory: This spring, the Raiders declined the fifth-year option on Jacobs, thus, making him an unrestricted free agent in March. Jacobs has exploded this year and is leading the NFL with 1,159 rushing yards. He is going to get paid handsomely and there are three ways it can happen.

  • The Raiders can give him an extension prior to the start of free agency.
  • The Raiders can give him the franchise tag, which could be up to $12.5 million, for 2023.
  • He can hit the open market and be free to sign with any of the 32 teams.

The franchise tag is significantly higher than the fifth-year option the Raiders have already declined. But Jacobs has earned the raise. It is unknown if the Raiders want to commit a big-dollar extension for a running back given the history of early decline at the position. If the Raiders don’t tag him, Jacobs may decide to hit free agency to get his highest value and create a bidding war.

In addition to some teams not wanting to spend big money in free agency, is the list of running backs set to him the open market is deep and strong.

It’s a great group and it could depress the running back market as a whole. Yet, Jacobs has been special and there will be interest if he hits the market. The Raiders can prevent it if they want.

It will be fascinating to see what develops after the way Jacobs has responded to getting his option declined.