Josh Jacobs is staying away from the Raiders, and in turn, Las Vegas is moving on. At least for now. While the AFC West contenders are open to restarting contract talks with the Pro Bowl running back, they've since listed second-year backup Zamir White as the starter on their first unofficial depth chart, setting the stage for a 2023 season without the NFL's reigning rushing champion.
Jacobs, of course, has been even more forthright about a potential split, repeatedly threatening to hold out into the season while under the franchise tag. It's still possible he and the Raiders could follow in the footsteps of Saquon Barkley and the Giants, who agreed to a slightly inflated one-year deal. But with a long-term contract already off the table, it's perhaps just as possible Jacobs will walk, either in the event the , or via trade.
In that case, here are the most logical landing spots for the former first-round pick:
Rhamondre Stevenson is lead-back material, but New England has been eyeing proven insurance for months, signing or courting James Robinson, Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott and others. They're not usually one to prefer a workhorse to a committee, but in a make-or-break year for their offense, a Jacobs rental could be enticing. And the Patriots connections among Raiders brass could help facilitate a deal. They've got enough cap space ($17 million) to carry Jacobs on the tag, if needed.
General manager Howie Roseman has made it a point not to overspend at RB, swapping out Miles Sanders for high-upside bets on D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny. But with $14M free and another Super Bowl bid in sight, a one-year flyer wouldn't be totally shocking considering how often they lean on the ground. Jacobs was at Alabama for all of Jalen Hurts' tenure with the Crimson Tide, and guys like Swift, Penny and Kenneth Gainwell are arguably better suited as secondary pieces anyway.
If Jacobs has a say in a potential relocation, he might prefer a contender, but Chicago has more money than most to offer, with $19.3M free in 2023 and close to $85M in projected 2024 cap space. In other words, they could be a long-term financial fit. More than that, sliding current RBs Khalil Herbert and D'Onta Foreman into rotational roles wouldn't be outlandish. Jacobs' bruising style would give young quarterback Justin Fields another safety valve and likely appeal to old-school defensive coach Matt Eberflus.
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Few teams have been so consistently linked to RB activity, even after re-signing Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson in free agency. They've been apparent front-runners in the Dalvin Cook sweepstakes, but with Cook taking his time and entertaining legit interest from the rival Jets, Miami could pivot to the younger option. Mostert has talked openly about the locker room to the backfield, and their all-star offense could always use more supporting pieces for injury-prone QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Javonte Williams is a promising homegrown starter, but he's coming off an ACL tear and new backup Samaje Perine is better-suited in a reserve role. New coach Sean Payton, meanwhile, has raved about Jacobs' ability and could accomplish two tasks at once by prying the back from Las Vegas: 1.) weaken a division rival, and 2.) ensure QB Russell Wilson has a killer ground game for his hopeful rebound. It's unlikely the Raiders would actually deal him here, but if Jacobs becomes a free agent, look out.
They're all in. Aaron Rodgers is in town, which means no move is off the table, regardless of the money or long-term fit. With $16.3M in current cap space, they could afford Jacobs anyway. Second-year back Breece Hall was mightily efficient as a rookie, but coming off injury, he's no guarantee to demand a bell-cow role. The Jets' pursuit of Dalvin Cook proves just that. Cook may or may not come cheaper, but Jacobs has just as much, if not more, explosiveness to offer a wannabe title contender.