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Josh Jacobs makes 1 thing clear: I don’t want the franchise tag

Updated February 4, 2023 - 6:43 pm

Josh Jacobs isn’t overly concerned about the progress of his contract negotiations at this point, but the popular and charismatic Raiders running back is clear he doesn’t want to be saddled with the franchise tag.

“Hero turned villain,” the Pro Bowler said Saturday at Allegiant Stadium of how he would feel should the team exercise that option to keep him off the market.

Jacobs had a career season, leading the NFL in rushing with 1,653 yards, and was rewarded with a berth in the Pro Bowl Games, which begin at noon Sunday at Allegiant.

The AFC leads the NFC 9-3 as a result of winning three of the four events contested Thursday. Scores from the two preliminary flag games Sunday, along with four more competitions like Best Catch and Kick-Tac-Toe, will be added together and represent the starting score for the final flag football game that will determine the winner.

Jacobs put up a valiant effort in the dodgeball game Thursday and could play a key role for the AFC on Sunday, but his sights are set on the future.

Because the Raiders declined last offseason to pick up the fifth-year option on Jacobs, the former first-round pick is set to hit free agency next month. The team could tag him for this season, which would mean a salary of $10,091,000.

Jacobs obviously wants a long-term deal with more in future guarantees. He said staying with the Raiders always has been his preference, but he’s keeping his options open.

“I’m chilling, man,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to you. I haven’t really talked to them or had any conversations or anything like that. I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat, and I control the ship. So however it goes is how it’s going to go. I’m not too much worried about it, but it definitely has to make sense.

“I haven’t felt disrespected in any type of way … yet.”

He expects discussions with the Raiders to begin soon, but his decision on where to sign should he become a free agent will come down to more than the bottom line.

“The pieces we get around and all that,” he said. “It’s one thing to be OK taking less money if you’re winning, but if you’re losing, they have to come correct. That’s just what it is for real.”

That makes Jacobs an interested observer in what moves the Raiders and other teams make. He said he believes the Raiders can win consistently, but need to improve on defense and the offensive line. He’s also monitoring what happens at quarterback with the team moving on from Derek Carr.

“I think all that plays a big part in whether I want to come back or not,” said Jacobs, who added that he has been kept in the loop about the team’s plans at quarterback since Carr was benched with two games left.

“I kind of know where their head is at on that,” he said. “I’m not going to speak on where they’re leaning, but I know the three they’re looking at, so we’ll see.”

Asked whether Tom Brady was one of those options before he retired, Jacobs laughed.

“I don’t know nothing about nothing,” he said jokingly. “I feel like that was a contingency plan. You feel me?”

The Pro Bowl, which brings together the league’s top players, has been a recruiting free-for-all. Jacobs said he has been approached by several players with a sales pitch on why he should sign with their team. Conversely, he has been putting out feelers to defensive players about joining the Raiders.

“The thing about Vegas is everyone wants to come here,” he said. “Hopefully we can figure it out and (the Raiders) can put the pieces together.”

Jacobs hopes he can be one of those pieces, but the conversations that really matter are going to be at the negotiating table.

“I feel like I’ve left my mark on this organization and with the group of guys in the locker room,” he said. “Obviously, it will be shaken up next year, but I feel like this is home. So for me, this is where I want to be.

“But I’m not going to discredit myself trying to be here, either. So it just has to make sense.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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