The Raiders have officially declined the fifth-year options on all three of their first-round picks from the 2019 NFL Draft. RB Josh Jacobs, S Johnathan Abram and DE Clelin Ferrell and now are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents following the 2022 season.
Jacobs, Abram and Ferrell were all selected by the previous Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock Raiders regime at picks #24, 27 and 4, respectively. Abram and Ferrell have particularly disappointed during their Raiders careers, especially Ferrell, and Jacobs has had respectable and reasonable production through three seasons at the running back position.
The Raiders posted the following statement from general manager Dave Ziegler on the team’s official Twitter account:
“With the May 2 deadline approaching, the Raiders have decided not to pick up the fifth-year options on Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram. We look forward to working with all three players and we will evaluate each situation individually moving forward.”
Had the Raiders exercised each players’ fifth-year options from the 2019 draft, Jacobs would have been owed $8 million, Abram $7.9 million and Ferrell $11.5 million.
Declining Ferrell’s option is a no-brainer, who has struggled to earn playing time during his short career and would have cost the most to retain. Abram’s number of $7.9 million is certainly not cheap, but if the McDaniels-Ziegler regime saw potential in the safety out of Mississippi State, $7.9 million is a reasonable cap-hit for a starting defensive back. But the Raiders declining Jacobs’ $8 million option, however, is very telling and certainly the most surprising of all three declined options.
Jacobs has posted three-straight seasons of 1200+ scrimmage yards since being drafted in 2019. Jacobs carries a nearly $3.8 million cap-hit in 2022, and the fifth-year option is considered a cost-efficient way to retain players’ services without offering the player a new contract or using the franchise tag.
McDaniels and Ziegler’s decision to decline Jacobs’ option shows that they have every intention to get cheaper at the running back position. It seems unlikely that a player as young and productive as Jacobs would find less than $8 million per year on the free agent market after this season. That being said, it seems that the most probable scenario is the Raiders let Jacobs walk in free agency in 2023.
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