Welcome to PlayerProfiler’s 2024 Free Agency Preview! This year, we’ll be providing you with player-by-player insights as we approach the Free Agency period opening March 13th. In the last edition, we broke down the free agency outlook for Mike Evans. Josh Jacobs’ contract is also up this offseason, so we’ll continue this series by examining the potential landing spots and free agency outlook of the Las Vegas Raiders running back.
The 2022 and 2023 seasons were polar opposites for Josh Jacobs. In 2022, Jacobs took home the NFL rushing title, compiling over 1,600 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He even added 53 receptions and 400 receiving yards to his resume, finishing top-10 in both categories. The high came crashing down in 2023, when Jacobs would barely clear 800 rushing yards in 13 games.
☢️ 39 Touches (6 rec)
☢️303 total yards
86 yd walk-off TD run in OT
‘22 production looks sustainable because his underlying metrics support his performances
Price is too high to buy
— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) November 29, 2022
Jacobs looked uninspired after being franchise-tagged, plodding along at 3.3 (No. 63) True Yards per Carry. Compiling a measly 2.89 (No. 49) Yards Created Per Touch and a 2.1-percent (No. 48) Breakaway Run Rate, he struggled to make explosive plays that, just one year prior, seemed easy. Still, there were spike weeks. With three games over 120 total yards, Jacobs showed there is still some juice left – in spurts.
Going into his age-26 season, Jacobs has a lot to prove. This is typically an age where backs like Jacobs are labeled “washed”. If there’s one thing we know about Jacobs, it’s that he’s as motivated as they come. Whether his paycheck comes from a franchise tag or an open offer, the veteran back will fight to prove his worth.
Most Likely Landing Spots
Las Vegas Raiders
No one fits Antonio Pierce’s definition of “Raider mentality” more than Josh Jacobs (and Maxx Crosby). Given Pierce’s obvious dedication to the run game, it’s likely they’ll want the veteran to return to Las Vegas for at least one more season.
Jacobs has done nothing but produce as a Raider, proving to be an underappreciated asset at multiple points throughout his career. The Raiders owe him some loyalty. Whether he’ll get that, though, remains to be seen. Las Vegas needs to spend their cap on premium positions that are causing glaring holes in their roster. They could very well opt to stay cheap at the running back position and roll with Zamir White. That all hinges on what direction Pierce and Co. want to take the roster.
The one piece the Texans are missing on offense is a running back. While I am actually somewhat of a Devin Singletary proponent, he should not be the RB1 on a serious contender. Houston needs to make an upgrade in some way, shape, or form to up-level their offense to the echelon of the AFC’s powerhouses.
While this is a thin RB draft class, there are quite a few names gathering buzz and building desirable prospect profiles. That being said, Jacobs isn’t that expensive and his talent is far more solidified. With $65 Million in cap space, there’s plenty of room to bring aboard Jacobs.
New England Patriots
I get this may sound far-fetched, but you can’t put anything past non-competing teams. The tandem of Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott actually worked well for the Patriots this season. In fact, they were the only two promising facets of the offense.
The Patriots have nearly $70 Million in cap space and are nowhere near contending for a Super Bowl. If last season made anything clear, it’s that they want a backfield partner for Stevenson. Ezekiel Elliott is a free agent who will likely opt to hold out to sign with a playoff contender, giving the Patriots the perfect opportunity to throw a meaningless bag at Jacobs.
Predicted Landing Spot
Antonio Pierce is a player’s coach, who will almost certainly push for the organization to work out a deal with (or franchise tag) their five-year running back. Given the current running back landscape, there’s really one one team that can realistically offer Jacobs a significant payday. So if it’s about the money, well, I have bad news for Josh…it ain’t comin’.
Realistically, he’ll get a similar contract value no matter where he signs. Unless he’s franchise tagged again, that leaves it up to him to decide where he wants to play most. Jacobs has gone on the record saying he wants to play for Antonio Pierce in Vegas, and that’s where I think he’ll end up.