Raiders running back Josh Jacobs dropped a cryptic tweet on Tuesday — one of several he’s put out on social media this offseason — that left fans wondering about the state of negotiations between the club and its star running back.
The tweet simply read “Bad business.” At the risk of reading too much into a two-word post, it’s safe to assume he is not happy with negotiations.
It’s raised questions about Jacobs’ long- and short-range future with the Raiders, for whom he’s played all four years of his career and is coming off a season in which he rushed for an NFL-leading 1,653 yards.
In spite of the terrific season, Jacobs and the Raiders were unable to agree on a new contract during the free agency window, prompting the Raiders to apply their franchise tag designation on him for the 2023 season.
The former Alabama standout joins the Giants’ Saquon Barkley and the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard as running backs whose teams have utilized the franchise tag tool to retain their services for at least one more year.
In an era when analytical data shows paying a running back big money on a second contract might not be good business, players like Jacobs, as good as he is, are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Jacobs has yet to sign the tender, and he and the club have until July 17th to hammer out a long-term deal or shelve negotiations until after the season.
If the situation goes in that direction, one would assume Jacobs will play this year under terms of the tag, which is valued at $10.09 million dollars.
One would assume, anyway.
There are other options, remote as they might be. We take a look here:
As in any situation involving professional sports, and in particular contract impasses between a star player and club, the trade scenario can never be completely ruled out.
After all, it boils down to just one of 31 other teams being motivated enough to secure Jacobs that they make an offer too rich for the Raiders to decline. But a handful of dynamics makes this a highly unlikely outcome.
First, the Raiders’ baseline asking price would have to be at least a third-round pick, which represents an improvement from the 2025 fourth-round pick they could recoup as compensation should Jacobs leave as a free agent after the 2023 season.
Otherwise, why surrender the production he represents in present terms for the equivalent — or worse — compensation that might be awaiting them if they can’t come to terms with him when they re-enter negotiations at the end of this season?
Second, even if a team made an offer too good to refuse, that team would then have to do something the Raiders couldn’t, and that is meet Jacobs’ contract demands.
Is that possible? Certainly. But maybe not probable considering how many running backs are available on the open market.
Rescind the tag
There have been some suggestions of the Raiders simply rescinding the tag designation to Jacobs, thus making him an immediate free agent and freeing up $10 million in cash and cap space.
While this would expedite the draft pick compensation for losing Jacobs from 2025 to 2024, as well as save the Raiders some money, it’s really a non-starter for a team trying to win right now. Jacobs is far more valuable to the Raiders this season than whatever future draft pick they may get for his departure.
Jacobs and Raiders agree on new deal
If we’re correctly reading Jacobs’ tweet, there is an obvious difference of opinion between his group and the Raiders on what represents fair contract compensation. And a growing level of frustration. Could the two sides close that gap ahead of the July 17th deadline? It’s certainly possible, but the tone of Jacobs’ tweet indicates that the gap might be too wide to bridge over the next three weeks.
There is motivation on both sides to get something done, and the necessary time to make it happen. But what good is time if each part is dug in deeply in its position?
Jacobs plays on tag
Jacobs is using all of his leverage and every second available to him to push the Raiders closer to the number he deems acceptable. Meanwhile, the Raiders are holding firm on their position. Barring either or both sides giving in to find a common ground, it almost seems inevitable this is heading toward a stalemate.
If so, the options are limited.
Jacobs will either play the 2023 season on the franchise tag or not play at all.
Given the guaranteed money Jacobs would be sacrificing, sitting out seems like an overly drastic position for a situation that, by rule, pushes any negotiations to the end of the season. In essence, Jacobs would be giving up money he will never recoup for an outcome that can’t be resolved for at least six months.
More likely, Jacobs will play this season with the Raiders, and both sides will revisit the possibility of a long-term deal at the end of the year.
It might not be ideal. And it likely does not bode well for his long-term Raiders future. But at this point, it’s the most likely outcome.