Tuesday, July 25, 2023 | 12:20 p.m.
One of two high-profile contract disputes involving NFL running backs concluded Tuesday morning. There’s no end in sight to the other.
Raiders coach Josh McDaniels welcomed all but one player on his roster to the team’s Henderson headquarters Tuesday morning for the start of training camp — All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs. McDaniels was working through meetings when news broke that the Giants had agreed to a one-year deal with Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley, but he made it clear there was “nothing” new in terms of a similar development with Jacobs.
The NFL’s rushing leader is not expected attend the Raiders’ first practice tomorrow, or any in the foreseeable future, after NFL Network reported he was seen flying out of Las Vegas.
“I have a great deal of respect for him as a person, as a player, what he did for our team last year and I look forward to seeing him whenever he is here,” McDaniels said. “I respect that process too. It’s his decision to make. It all has to do with what they think is best for him. We all have to do those things in our life.”
Jacobs is the final player in the NFL who hasn’t signed after being franchise tagged this offseason. The football world was prepared for prolonged holdouts from Barkley and Jacobs, potentially until preparations for Week 1 of the regular season began, but the situation was avoided with the former.
The Giants converted some of Barkley’s $10.1 million franchise tag into a signing bonus and added incentives to his deal. McDaniels maintained that Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler and his staff “worked feverishly” on negotiating with Jacobs up to last Monday’s deadline for long-term contracts.
“I respect his decision to ultimately not sign a deal at that point so, right now, it is what it is,” McDaniels said. “There hasn’t been much since the deadline.”
How diligently the Raiders actually attempted to lock up the 25-year-old former first round pick out of Alabama long-term is in dispute. Jacobs hasn’t granted any interviews, but he’s taken to social media where he’s repeatedly alluded to the Raiders not making as much of a push to end the stalemate as they’re claiming.
Jacobs’ last post on Twitter this weekend was a retweet of a Dan Patrick Show interview with teammate Davante Adams, who has spoken with the running back throughout the process.
“I told him I understand where he’s coming from,” Adams said of Jacobs on the show. “You have to do what you have to do in order to feel your worth. You can’t just do something that your heart’s not in…but at the same time, I tried to present a couple things to him, the positives of coming back. He and I are really close so when it comes to the connection I try to remind him of the opportunities we have to potentially do something special together.”
Not many are mentioning “something special” with the Raiders this season as they’re near-unanimously picked to finish last in the AFC West and slotted as one of the worst teams in the league. But no one would have known that was the case by McDaniels’ initial news conference.
They say every NFL team feels like it can win the Super Bowl in the summer, and the Raiders may fit with that truism. McDaniels beamed as he entered the media room and brought up multiple times how enthusiastic he was for the season ahead.
Jacobs may not be in the building, but the team got positive news on the other biggest offensive name with a previously-uncertain status. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was cleared from a foot surgery and will be on the field for practice tomorrow, McDaniels confirmed.
“I think the best place we can be right now is, we’re eager, we’re excited,” McDaniels said. “We have a genuine good feeling about one another in the locker rom. I think they’re ready to go out there and perform, compete with one another.”
There’s bound to be plenty of competition among the running backs with Jacobs away from the team for the foreseeable future. McDaniels praised Zamir White’s work ethic throughout the offseason, and the second-year former fourth-round pick out of Georgia is expected to be the featured back without Jacobs.
But the Raiders also have veterans Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden in the running back room along with Brittain Brown, Austin Walter and Sincere McCormick. All six running backs on the roster will have ample opportunities without Jacobs, who cannot be fined for missing training camp since he hasn’t signed his franchise tender.
The situation makes for a negative cloud hovering over the start of the training camp, but McDaniels expressed a lot of positivity.
“Anything can certainly change (with Jacobs),” McDaniels said. “I’m a coach; I’d love to have every single one of them here. That’s obviously a preference of ours so we can work with each one of them but when that is, we’ll see.”