John Harbaugh may have raised some eyebrows – or at least spurred some speculation – when he said at the owners meetings yesterday that former New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs is “definitely” on the team’s list.
I don't want to put words in Harbaugh’s mouth, but I didn’t come away from that statement believing that the Ravens have legitimate interest in Jacobs, one of many accomplished running backs on the free-agent market.
I thought Harbaugh was simply affirming that Jacobs is out there and available and he is one of many options for the Ravens in trying to find a veteran backup running back and insurance if youngsters Anthony Allen and Damien Berry don’t seize the opportunity behind Ray Rice.
Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, Joseph Addai, Jackie Battle, Ronnie Brown, Justin Forsett and many other ball carriers are also available as the free-agent running back market has moved at a glacial pace.
Maybe it's just me, but I don’t see the 29-year-old Jacobs as a good fit for the Ravens. Sure, he’s won two Super Bowls and his physical style would be a nice complement to Rice’s speed and elusiveness. But that’s about it.
One, Jacobs, who was released by the Giants after the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract restructuring, will probably want more money than the Ravens are willing to give for a backup.
Two, Jacobs, who simply doesn’t have the ability to bite his tongue or mince words, has been vocal in the past when he doesn’t feel like he’s getting the ball enough. He had 152 carries this past season and 147 the year before. And yes, there were several complaints along the way that he wasn't getting the ball enough.
Assuming that Rice stays healthy, Jacobs wouldn't get close to that workload with the Ravens. Consider that Ricky Williams, who was reasonably effective as Rice's backup during the 2011-12 season, got 108 total carries and also caught two fewer balls than Jacobs did. And the 10,000-plus-yard rusher never once complained.
And finally, it certainly isn't clear how much Jacobs has left in the tank. That's not a shot at him. The former fourth-round pick has had a nice seven-year career and been a valuable member of two championship teams. But his upright and bruising running style has to have taken a toll. He averaged 3.8 yards a carry this past season, the second lowest of his career since he become a regular contributor. The Giants also struggled at times in short-yardage situations, and Jacobs shouldered some of that blame.
For the reasons listed above, Jacobs might be on the Ravens' list, but I doubt that he's at the top of it.