LAS VEGAS – The traditional Pro Bowl is no more. Instead of playing a soccer game, the AFC and NFC representatives will face off in a soccer tournament on Sunday. Partly in response to the changes, many players pulled out of the event. Although Raiders running back Josh Jacobs would participate, he thought it was a waste of time.
“This is — stupid,” Jacobs said Saturday. “We’re not enjoying this.”
Pro Bowl aside, Jacobs’ dynamic 2022 season that landed him the award — along with a first-team All-Pro selection — kept him feeling fulfilled as he went through the off-season. He played every game, winning the rushing title with 1,653 yards and leading the NFL with 2,053 yards from scrimmage. Because the Raiders turned down Jacobs’ fifth-year option last season, he is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March. The 24-year-old has yet to start contract negotiations with the Raiders – he expects to start next week – but has made it clear he has no plans for a financial settlement.
“I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat, do you know what I’m saying?” Jacobs said. “I control the ship. Anyway, that’s how it goes, you know what I’m saying? So, I’m not worried too much about that, but it sure would make sense.”
Technically, the Raiders control the ship. If they can’t come to an agreement with Jacobs on a multi-year contract, they can just use their exclusive franchise tag to bring him back for a year at around $10.09 million, according to Over the Cap. When asked how he would respond to being branded franchise, Jacobs indicated he wouldn’t be happy.
“Oh, the hero has gone rogue,” he said. “Hero turned villain, man.”
If Jacobs receives the franchise’s exclusive tag, he could refuse to sign it and sit out the season a la LeVeon Bell in 2018. But that doesn’t fit his character, and the most likely scenario is to demand a trade to a team that will renegotiate to give him the contract he seeks. An ugly breakup of this nature can’t be ruled out, but if Jacobs has his way, he’ll stay with the Raiders.
“This is where I want to be,” Jacobs said. “I feel like I’ve left my mark on this organization. With the guys in the locker room – it’s obviously going to shake up next year, but I feel like this is home. For me, that’s where I want to be, but I’m not going to discredit myself trying to I’m here too. So, it must make sense.”
Showing off at home 😁#ProBowlGames | espn pic.twitter.com/z4LOFxpeuQ
– Las Vegas Raiders (Raiders) February 3, 2023
The Raiders also have the option of using the non-exclusive franchise tag, which is worth the same amount as the exclusive franchise tag but will allow Jacobs to negotiate with other teams, giving them the ability to match up and rewarding them with two first rounds. chooses if they decide not to. The Raiders could also use the go-to tag, which is worth about $8.4 million. It also allows the player to negotiate with other teams and gives the team the ability to match but does not reward him with anything if he does not do so. Neither of those avenues would satisfy Jacobs, but they would allow him to explore his options.
Jacobs emphasized that it’s not just about the money. He’s tired of losing — the Raiders have a 31-35 record since being drafted in 2019 — and certainly isn’t about to take a deduction if it looks like this trend will continue.
“As I tell people, man, it’s nice to take less money and things like that if you’re winning,” Jacobs said. “But, if you’re losing, they have to make it right. That’s just the way it is.”
Even if the Raiders get it right, Jacobs wants to see the roster improved across the board. General Manager Dave Ziegler has plenty of cap and draft pick space to go towards this offseason effort.
“I think we have a great chance of winning,” Jacobs said. “Like I’ve said all last year, I feel like we’ve always been very close. That really comes with getting the right people in there and getting more guys on defense and getting more guys up front. And obviously, now the quarterback situation. I think that plays a part Big of what I want to do too, if I come back or not. It just depends.”
Jacobs revealed that he spoke with the front office about the plan at quarterback after Derek Carr was benched in Week 17. He did not reveal their identity, but said the team has set three goals. When asked if one of those options would be Tom Brady, who retired earlier this week, Jacobs started laughing.
He said, “I don’t know anything about anything.” “I feel like this was a contingency plan, can you feel me?”
Speaking of backup plans, Jacobs said players in the Pro Bowl are trying to lure him into other teams. On the flip side, he did some recruiting of his own should he stay with the team.
“Both ways, man,” Jacobs said. “I talked to a couple of the defensive players. I was like, ‘Man, what are you thinking? What are you going to do?’ And the thing about Vegas, man, is everybody wants to come here. Hopefully we can figure that out and they can put some pieces together.”
NFL teams aren’t allowed to place franchise or transfer tags on players until March 7, so there’s more than a month before it’s known if the Raiders will use one on Jacobs. If they don’t, Jacobs will be able to begin negotiations with other teams on March 13. Until that happens, it remains a wait-and-see game.
“We haven’t spoken yet, so I haven’t felt disrespected in any way yet,” Jacobs said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
(Photo: Michael Owens/The Associated Press)