NFL free agency is right around the corner. While some players will work out extensions with their current teams, most of them will become unrestricted free agents and hit the open market. One of the most prominent offensive free agents is Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs. What are some possible landing spots for Jacobs?
Josh Jacobs Free Agency Predictions
Every year, the free agent class has its strengths and weaknesses. The 2023 class is very weak at wide receiver, but absolutely loaded at running back. That, combined with what is believed to be a very strong rookie running back class, will make watching this unfold very interesting.
There are several teams clearly in need of a running back, as well as a few more with a starter likely on his last legs. The RB landscape is set to undergo a significant change over the next year or two.
Someone is about to get an answer for potentially the next three seasons in Jacobs. Here are the three most likely landing spots for the Raiders’ running back.
A Return to the Raiders Remains in the Cards
Last year, the Raiders spent a fourth-round draft pick on Zamir White. Football fans may have overreacted to that decision as some sort of indictment on Jacobs. The reality is a Day 3 pick isn’t significant. The Raiders drafted White because they believed he was a good player that could help the team — not necessarily to replace Jacobs.
After the way Jacobs performed in 2022, there’s no doubt the Raiders would be open to him returning. They’ve indicated as such.
Jacobs is also open to a return. He told Chris Simms he’d be willing to play out the season on the franchise tag, but was sure to add, “If you want me to come back as the hero, you better pay me like a hero.”
MORE: 2023 NFL Free Agency Predictions
At this point, the Raiders tagging Jacobs seems like the most probable outcome. The tag is projected to be a little over $10 million, which makes it advantageous for teams to go that route.
After Jacobs’ stellar 2022 season, his average annual value in a long-term extension would almost certainly be more expensive than the tag.
At the same time, Jacobs has also made it clear he wants to win. With Derek Carr gone, the Raiders need to figure out what they’re doing at quarterback and if they can put together a competitive roster. I’m skeptical they can do so, which makes me stop short of being confident Jacobs will return to Vegas.
Vegas Nation’s Vincent Bonsignore is a bit more confident than I am, though, tweeting, “Nothing shocks me in sorts anymore, but I would be shocked in Josh Jacobs wasn’t with the Raiders next season.”
The Eagles Don’t Have Many Holes, But Jacobs Would Fill One at Running Back
To be clear, I am not suggesting that Miles Sanders or any of the running backs are the reason the Eagles came up short against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. That game and matchup were as close as it gets. But the Eagles are in the enviable position of being able to splurge a bit on luxuries.
Sanders is also a free agent. Kenneth Gainwell played well last season, especially in the playoffs, but I don’t foresee the Eagles moving forward with him as their starter. His role as the satellite back makes sense. I think they’d like to keep him there.
Out of the top free agent running backs, Sanders is the one I feel is least likely to return to his current team.
The Eagles don’t necessarily need a three-down back like Jacobs. They could also choose to use him more like he was used over his first three seasons. Regardless, Jacobs would undoubtedly provide the Eagles with an upgrade at the position.
The biggest struggle I had when going over the potential landing spots for Jacobs was finding teams that had a need at the position, could afford to spend money, and also provided Jacobs with an opportunity to win.
The Eagles fit two out of three, with the lone issue being the salary cap situation. But at just about $3 million over the cap, it’s nothing GM Howie Roseman can’t figure out if he wanted to.
Jacobs would provide a sizable upgrade on Sanders and add yet another dynamic element to the Eagles’ already elite offense.
Jacobs Makes a Ton of Sense for the Dolphins
The Dolphins went through the 2023 season with a makeshift backfield comprised of replacement-level running backs. They opened with Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert before ultimately cutting Edmonds. By the end of the season, they were using Mostert as the clear lead back with Salvon Ahmed behind him.
The thing with the Dolphins is they really don’t care about the running back position. Jacobs would provide them with a true three-down back who can be effective in all phases of the game.
Additionally, the Dolphins were a playoff team last year. Jacobs has made it clear that winning is a priority for him. As long as Tua Tagovailoa remains healthy, I would be surprised if the Dolphins weren’t a playoff team.
The fit makes sense, but will the Dolphins actually commit the funds necessary to acquire a true RB1?
The Dolphins have a lengthy history of not spending at running back. Their salary cap situation is also a challenge, as they are currently about $12 million in the red.
While Jacobs would be a perfect fit for the Dolphins, they are probably one of the lesser likely landing spots for the talented back.
Josh Jacobs’ Market Value, Career Stats, and More
Jacobs currently sits at No. 16 in our top 100 free agents. He is the second-ranked non-quarterback offensive player, behind Tony Pollard and ahead of Saquon Barkley, which may be considered a spicy take.
On his rookie deal, Jacobs cost the Cowboys just under $4 million against the salary cap. Whether it’s on the franchise tag or via a long-term extension, no team is getting away with anything below at least $10 million in 2023 and beyond.
Jacobs is only 25 years old. Last year, we saw older veterans James Conner and Leonard Fournette get three years, $21 million. Jacobs is better and more valuable than both of them. He is likely looking at a minimum of $10 million a year but probably even more than that.
It will be interesting to see how the offers vary between the clear top three running backs: Pollard, Jacobs, and Barkley. All three are franchise tag candidates, with Pollard and Jacobs more likely to get the tag than Barkley.
MORE: Highest-Paid Running Backs in the NFL
The latter will likely end up with the most lucrative deal, despite being third amongst the group in our free agent RB rankings. That makes Jacobs and Pollard the likely bargains.
The jury was still out on Jacobs heading into his fourth season, but he more than proved himself. I don’t think he has another 2,000-yard season in him, but he should consistently be around 1,500-1,700 yards until he starts to decline. Whether he reaches 12+ touchdowns again will be heavily impacted by where he ends up.
Ultimately, I do think the Raiders tag Jacobs. But if they (or someone else) work out a long-term deal with him, I can see him getting 3-4 years at around $11-13 million a year.
Josh Jacobs Career Stats
- Carries: 1,072
- Rushing Yards: 4,740
- Receptions: 160
- Receiving Yards: 1,152
- Total Touchdowns: 40