Running back Josh Jacobs is listed as a starter on the team’s preseason depth chart. It’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll be on the team.
Jacobs, the only skill-position player to start for the Raiders in Canton on Thursday night, had five carries for 30 yards. He added two catches for 14.
Coach Josh McDaniels downplayed the decision to use Jacobs in the bonus preseason game, explaining that running backs need to get used to being hit and tackled before the games that count. Still, it’s entirely possible that Jacobs has fallen out of favor with the new regime in Las Vegas.
The first clear indication came when the Raiders didn’t pick up his fifth-year option. Jacobs, surely aware of the manner in which McDaniels deployed running backs in New England, knows that his trio of 250-plus-touch seasons likely has ended.
So in a contract year, Jacobs may not get the kind of regular-season workload that would help him secure the kind of second deal he assumed he’d eventually find, with the Raiders or another team. He’d be more likely to get it with another team.
The decision to use Jacobs so extensively in the preseason opener becomes a signal to the rest of the league. Jacobs is available. Given that the position entails car-crash contact that inevitably results in injuries, it’s just a matter or time before a starting tailback with another team exits for weeks or months or the rest of the season. That’s when the Raiders quite possibly will get a call. And when Jacobs quite likely will end up in a place where he can get more chances to show what he can do.
Jacobs has a fully-guaranteed salary of $2.122 million. The Raiders have no reason to rush to move him. They can wait for the right moment — even if it doesn’t come until the season starts. At some point between now and the Tuesday after Week Eight, an opportunity to trade Jacobs will arise.
He has more than 3,000 rushing yards in three seasons, with a pair of 1,000-yard campaigns. Even if he doesn’t have much of a future with the Raiders, he’s done enough to get another chance somewhere. And he’s good enough for the Raiders to get value for the final year of his rookie deal.