One of the bigger storylines of the NFL offseason has been the unwillingness by certain NFL franchises to pay proven elite running backs the same as other skill position players.
Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders is one of those running backs, and he, like fellow backs Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Taylor, and Derrick Henry have expressed disappointment in how the position is treated and not as appreciated as others.
Jacobs, among others in his position, is holding out of training camp until he and the Raiders can come to an agreement that is more than just a franchise tender. Whether the team and its superstar running back can come to that agreement is foggy at best, and it’s very possible that the two parties part ways.
Should they part ways, one team to watch out for is the Denver Broncos, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. To anyone following the offseason for the Broncos, this should not be of significant surprise.
Just about every back unhappy in his current situation seems to have been mentioned as a potential addition for the Broncos in some light or another, which begs to question how content Sean Payton is with the running back spot leading up to the season. It could also indicate his lack of faith that Russell Wilson can carry the major load for the offense, and he’ll need someone like Jacobs to share that load.
If Jacobs becomes available, though, and if the Broncos are serious about a pursuit, remember that Jacobs isn’t holding out for just the hell of it. He wants to get paid, and he wants to get paid the big bucks.
And if he can’t get paid the big bucks, he at least will want to go to a place with the most direct path to a Lombardi trophy, as Florio mentions the Kansas City Chiefs as the other likely candidate to look into adding the first-team All-Pro from last season.
The Broncos, even with the addition of Sean Payton, can’t offer the “sure thing” status the Chiefs can, which means it will take significant money if he becomes a free agent. Could a trade be worked out? It’s possible, but unlikely, that the Broncos would pay the hefty price (one or multiple first-round picks) for a one-year deal. So the most likely path to the Broncos is by opening up the checkbook, which could affect other roster players who eventually will be looking to get paid.
The team currently has a good looking running back tandem with Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine with undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin turning heads in training camp. Yet, Williams’ health status will remain a question, Perine is a good back but not proven to be a RB1 type of difference maker, and while McLaughlin is standing out in camp, a reminder that it’s just camp. There are camp superstars every year that can’t make the jump to the regular season field.
Therefore, given the uncerainty despite the talent in the backfield, it makes sense to keep seeing the Broncos mentioned with Jacobs and others. How serious the team will be likely depends on how the rest of camp shakes out and just how much Jacobs would demand. For now, this will be something to at least keep an ear open for more to develop, but nothing imminent should be expected (outside of Payton flat out saying they won’t pursue).
If nothing else, if the Broncos remain content with their backfield as is and Jacobs does indeed become available, it would be most ideal if he stayed away from the Chiefs...please.