HENDERSON, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders on Friday announced they are not picking up the fifth-year contract options on any of their three first-round picks from the 2019 draft — defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who was selected fourth overall that year, running back Josh Jacobs, who went 24th, and safety Johnathan Abram, the 27th selection.
While Ferrell and Abram were considered draft reaches at the time, Jacobs authored a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first two years and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2020.
“We look forward to working with all three players and we will evaluate each situation individually moving forward,” Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler said in a statement.
The three were drafted by the previous regime of general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden.
The picks used for Jacobs and Abram were acquired by the Raiders from the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys in the trades of edge rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper, respectively.
Not picking up the options would indicate the Raiders’ new leaders, Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels, are taking a wait-and-see approach to the roster they inherited when they were hired in January.
The options would have carried price tags for 2023 of $11.5 million for Ferrell, $8.034 million for Jacobs and $7.901 million for Abram.
McDaniels was asked Thursday night at the conclusion of the draft’s first round where the team was in the process of deciding whether to exercise the options.
“There’s some tough decisions; they always are when you have those things come up,” McDaniels said. “But we’ll see how the draft goes, too. That’s all part of the process. Those guys have been great. All of them are here, all of them doing all the right things. We’re really enjoying that process of getting to know them and, really, I’m looking forward to just building the relationships with them because regardless of what happens — you pick up [the options], you don’t — that doesn’t mean the relationship’s going to change.
“So, we’re really just pouring into them, hoping that they get to know us. They’re doing the same thing, couldn’t ask anything more from all three of those guys and, you know, we’ll cross that bridge here in the next few days.”
Ferrell, selected after quarterback Kyler Murray, defensive end Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, was the highest-rated player at the Raiders’ biggest positional need when they drafted, Mayock said at the time.
But after starting his first 26 games — 15 as a rookie, 11 in his second season — Ferrell did not start any of his 16 games last season. He has eight sacks in his career: 4.5 as a rookie, 2 in 2020 and 1.5 last season.
Jacobs, meanwhile, has rushed for 3,087 yards and 28 touchdowns while averaging 4.2 yards per carry and catching 107 passes for 752 yards in three seasons. Still, his rushing totals have gone down from 1,150 yards as a rookie to 1,065 yards in 2020 to 872 yards last season.
Along with Jacobs, the Raiders return Kenyan Drake at running back, though Drake is returning from a season-ending ankle injury that came in Week 13. Las Vegas also signed a pair of former New England Patriots in Brandon Bolden and Jakob Johnson, as well as NFL veteran Ameer Abdullah.
Quarterback Derek Carr said recently that Jacobs would benefit from McDaniels’ offensive scheme.
The hard-hitting Abram, who missed all but one half of one game of his rookie season because of a shoulder injury, has shown himself to be a positive against the run but a liability in pass coverage. He has three career interceptions but has only played in 28 of a possible 49 games after suffering another shoulder injury last season that cost him the final three games as well as the playoff loss at the Cincinnati Bengals.