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Josh Jacobs: History of franchise tagged running backs

Looking at the recent history

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Le’Veon Bell in 2020
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

With Las Vegas Raiders’ star running back Josh Jacobs staying away at the start training camp because he didn’t get a contract extension by the deadline, let’s look at some of the recent running backs who held out.

Of course, Jacobs (along with New York Giants’ star tailback Saquon Barkley) must play on the $10.09 million franchise tag this year if they are going to play. They can’t sign a long-term deal until after the season.

  • Alvin Kamara signed a five-year, $75 million deal just before the start of the 2020 season. He was heading into the final year of his contract.
  • Ezekiel Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million contract five days before the start of the 2019 season. He was heading into the final year of his contract.
  • Melvin Gordon held out for the first four games of the 2019 season with the Chargers. He never got a new deal and signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent the next offseason.
  • Le’Veon Bell played on the franchise tag in 2017. The Pittsburgh Steelers placed the tag on him in 2018 for the second straight year. Backing what he said in January, 2018, Bell sat out the entire season, his age 26 season. The Steelers let him walk as a free agent in 2019. He signed with the New York Jets with a four-year, $52.5 million deal.
Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
Maurice Drew-Jones
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
  • In 2012, Maurice Drew-Jones held out until a week before the season started. He didn’t get a new deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played there until signing with the Raiders in 2015. He retired after that season.
  • A week before the 2011 season began, Chris Johnson ended his holdout with the Tennessee Titans and became the highest paid running back in the NFL with a four-year, $53.5 million deal. He was entering the final year of his contract.
  • In 2008, Steven Jackson ended a holdout right after training camp in the final year of his contract and re-signed with the St. Louis Rams on a six-year, $49.3 million contract.
  • In 2007 (the final year of his contract), Larry Johnson ended a month-long contract holdout with the Kansas City Chiefs and signed a six-year, $45 million contract the biggest contract in the NFL for a tailback.


Every situation is different, but, of course, the biggest comparison for Jacobs is Bell and it turned ugly. We’ll see where this goes this year.