When the Raiders selected defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs, and safety Johnathan Abram in the first round of the 2019 draft, the team envisioned those three players as cornerstones of the franchise going forward.
Now, all three players may be elsewhere in 2023 — if not sooner.
Las Vegas announced on Friday that the club has declined the fifth-year option on Ferrell, Jacobs, and Abram. The moves are not particularly surprising, given the production from each player paired with the Raiders having a new regime in place with General Manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels.
“We look forward to working with all three players and we will evaluate each situation individually moving forward,” Ziegler said in a statement.
Realistically, Jacobs was the only candidate for his option to be picked up. Selected at No. 24 in 2019, Jacobs has recorded at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage in each of his first three seasons and was the runner-up to Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for offensive rookie of the year in 2019. Jacobs rushed for 872 yards with nine TDs last season, catching a career-high 54 passes for 348 yards.
But if the Raiders picked up Jacobs’ option, they would have owed him $8 million guaranteed for 2023. Given McDaniels’ approach to running backs, Las Vegas could likely use that money to improve other positions.
Ferrell, the No. 4 overall pick in 2019, lost his starting job last season. He’s never matched the production of fellow 2019 draft pick Maxx Crosby, who signed a contract extension with Las Vegas in early March. He would’ve been due to make $11.5 million in guaranteed salary on the fifth-year option.
Abram missed nearly all of his rookie season with a shoulder injury suffered in Week One. But he finished second on the team in 2021 with 116 total tackles, playing 14 games. The 27th overall pick in 2019, he would have made $7.9 million on the fifth-year option.
By announcing they’ve declined all three options on Friday, the Raiders could create a trade market for any of the three players for the next two days of the draft.