Skip to main content

Packers Signing All-Pro Raiders Running Back Josh Jacobs

The Green Bay Packers made a huge splash at the start of NFL free agency on Monday by agreeing to terms with 2022 NFL rushing leader Josh Jacobs. The next big domino was Aaron Jones.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a bombshell at the start of NFL free agency on Monday, the Green Bay Packers have agreed to terms with the 2022 NFL rushing leader, Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.

NFL Network broke the news. It is a four-year deal worth $48 million, according to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report.

Jacobs paced the NFL with 1,653 rushing yards and 2,053 total yards in 2022. In 2023, those numbers fell to 805 rushing yards and 1,101 total yards in 13 games. He missed the final four games of the season with a quad injury.

Jacobs wore No. 28 with the Raiders before switching to No. 8. No. 28 was worn by AJ Dillon, who was not expected to return to Green Bay, anyway. From there, the question became whether Jacobs would pair with Aaron Jones in 2024 to form a super-tandem in the backfield.

He will not. Multiple reports stated the Packers were set to release Jones.

The 24th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, Jacobs in five NFL seasons has rushed for 5,545 yards (4.2 average) and 46 touchdowns. He’ll fit right in as a pass-catching threat – he’s got 197 receptions for his career, including two years of more than 50 – and as a power threat at 5-foot-10 and 223 pounds.

“That’s what every offense is searching for – someone that gives you an issue in the passing game and then they can counterbalance with someone handing the ball off to,” former defensive coordinator Joe Barry said before the Packers lost to the Raiders in October.

Jacobs turned 26 in February.

“This guy’s got incredible balance, he’s got incredible hands, he can make you miss,” coach Matt LaFleur said before the game. “There’s nothing that he can’t do, so I think he’s a guy that you have to have a plan for when you’re approaching him in terms of how you want to tackle him.”

After his all-world 2022, Jacobs found tougher sledding in 2023.

His average plunged from 4.9 per carry to 3.5, his success rate from 57.4 percent to 45.9 percent and his yards after contact dipped from 3.40 per carry to 2.35. His missed-tackle rate of 12.0 percent ranked 34th. Interestingly, the Raiders went 3-1 when he missed the final four games.

However, the coaching change from Josh McDaniels to Antonio Pierce helped get Jacobs rolling. That includes 110 rushing yards in an upset win at Kansas City. Because he’s young, the Packers clearly are betting that his 2022 was not a one-year-wonder sort of season.

Jacobs rushed 20 times for 69 yards (3.5 average) and caught all five targets for 20 yards in the Raiders’ 17-13 win in Week 5. During Jacobs’ rookie season of 2019, he carried 21 times for 124 yards (5.9 average) and caught all three targets for 10 yards.

“Great running back. He can do everything. He can do it all,” defensive tackle Kenny Clark said before the October matchup.

A potential pairing of Jacobs and Jones would have been great, as well, but the Packers could not make it happen. They had been in talks with Jones’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to lower his $17.58 million cap number. That was set to be the second-highest in the NFL behind the Saints’ Alvin Kamara ($18.76 million). In his final year under contract, Jones was set to earn a base salary of $11.1 million.

Incredibly, Jacobs was almost a total afterthought in recruiting circles before landing at Alabama. In three seasons, he rushed for 1,491 yards (5.9 average) and caught 48 passes.

“We thought something was wrong with the guy – maybe he's too small or whatever,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "And [running backs coach Burton Burns] said, ‘No, this is a pretty good looking guy. I watched him practice basketball, and he's very athletic and very explosive.' And I said, ‘Well, there's got to be something wrong with the guy.' And we kept searching and searching and searching and never really ever found anything.”

Growing up in Tulsa, Okla., Jacobs was homeless for a period during middle school. That history was featured in a Kia ad during the Super Bowl.

“You’ve got believe in yourself, be tougher than the world around you … push yourself to be someone, and I promise someday, you will,” he said at the end of the ad.