HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — His contract dispute behind him, Josh Jacobs said he was completely focused on putting together a strong season for him and the Raiders.
“(Expletive), we’re here,” he said Wednesday. “We made it happen, so there are no hard feelings now. It’s a clean slate for me. There was never for me hate on each side. I understood (the Raiders’ stance), but I understood my value, too. It was about meeting in the middle.”
Jacobs has less than two weeks to try to get into game shape before Las Vegas opens its season Sept. 10 at AFC West rival Denver.
“Physically, I ain’t missed a step,” Jacobs said. “The biggest thing for me was coming back mentally with the playbook and the new plays. I didn’t want to be behind. But when I came in today, I didn’t have any errors. Now it’s just about stacking days.”
Jacobs and the Raiders agreed to a one-year contract worth up to $12 million, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The person spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because no contractual details were provided.
The Raiders had placed the franchise tag on Jacobs, under which he would have earned $10.1 million. He was one of several standout NFL running backs who received what they felt were lowball contract offers this offseason.
Jacobs led the league in rushing last season with 1,653 yards, and between carrying the ball and catching it. he had nearly 400 touches. Coach Josh McDaniels has said the Raiders likely would rely heavily on Jacobs again this season.
McDaniels also said a player needs practice time to get up to speed before getting a full complement of plays, so it’s quite possible Jacobs will be eased back on the field.
“He’s one of the smartest football players that you’re going to coach,” McDaniels said. “I think he’ll acclimate very easily back into the system and what he’s doing, and then we’ll just see how the overall conditioning and readiness to play, how many snaps is that going to be, etc. We’ll figure that out here in the next 10 days.”
The Raiders received a commissioner’s permission roster exemption for Jacobs, meaning they have one more than the maximum 53 players. They will have to cut a player by next week before facing the Broncos.
Jacobs said he came away impressed with this year’s team after his first practice. The Raiders hope to improve on their 6-11 record from last season.
“We got a lot faster,” Jacobs said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that love the game. We’ve got a lot of guys with high IQs. That’s the first thing I noticed.
“It’s got me really excited for the season.”
There was one noticeable difference when he returned to practice. Jacobs now wears No. 8 rather than No. 28. He wanted to change last year to the single-digit number he wore at Alabama, but the price tag to buy out the NFL jerseys in inventory for one of the league’s more popular players was too high.
“They wanted to charge me $3.5 (million) for it, so I’m not going to do that,” Jacobs said. “All my life, that’s the number I’ve always worn. That’s the number I’ve always felt like it would bring out something different in me.”
GOING WITH 3 QBS
The Raiders kept three quarterbacks, opting to retain 15-year veteran Brian Hoyer in addition to starter Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Aidan O’Connell.
“The guys with some experience offer their hand to Aidan when he has opportunity to learn from them, and those guys are hard at work trying to get ready themselves,” McDaniels said. “So that’s a position that’s important, obviously, and having some depth there is never a bad thing.”
He said there wasn’t a designated No. 2 quarterback necessarily, but the team would have to declare one each game, indicating Las Vegas would use the new emergency QB rule.
Las Vegas has signed 14 players to the practice squad, including defensive tackle Matthew Butler, cornerback Tyler Hall, guard Netane Muti, wide receiver Devin Ross and cornerback Sam Webb.
The Raiders have three remaining spots. They receive an extra one because defensive end David Agoha is on the practice squad through a development program for international players.
McDaniels had hoped to retain linebacker Drake Thomas, but the Seattle Seahawks claimed him off waivers.
“It’s just one of those things where you try to create the right 53, and sometimes you’re going to miss out on a guy here if you want to keep working with them on the practice squad,” McDaniels said. “Wish him nothing but the best. He’ll do a great job there.”