What's subsequent for Lamar Jackson of Baltimore Ravens after contract talks finish? The decisions, risks and potential outcomes
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens confirmed Friday they had been unable to understand a contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who simply isn’t represented by an agent, placing the brakes on basically the most extreme-profile talks inside the NFL till after the season, and growing the scrutiny each time Jackson takes the sector.
When Jackson fires a sport-worthwhile touchdown go, the response will embrace how he elevated his worth and the method the Ravens dropped the ball by not getting an extension executed. When Jackson commits a turnover or takes a large hit, some will argue he ought to have signed a deal earlier than the season and that he price himself tens of millions.
“He does not actually converse about it, so it hasn’t actually been a distraction,” Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey mentioned.
The Ravens’ focus is worthwhile the AFC North and turning into the NFL’s latest crew to go from final place to first. It has occurred in 17 of the final 19 seasons, collectively with final yr when the Cincinnati Bengals went from a 4-win season to the large Bowl.
as quickly as the season is over, Baltimore’s problem shifts again to getting Jackson signed prolonged-time period. however inside the meantime, questions abound.
Will Jackson get the franchise tag subsequent yr?
that is the place the Ravens and Jackson are headed till they will uncover a compromise, although the two sides have been engaged on that for the final 20 months with out an settlement.
March 7 is the deadline for teams to make the most of the franchise tag. If the sides can not attain a deal by then, the Ravens should use the tag on a quarterback for the fundamental time inside the franchise’s 27-yr historic previous to maintain Jackson from turning into an unrestricted free agent. Jackson would make $forty five million in 2023 if he performs beneath the unique franchise tag.
that is unusual territory for franchise quarterbacks. inside the earlier 10 offseasons, solely two have been given the tag: Kirk Cousins (2016 and 2017), who was with Washington on the time, and Dallas’ Dak Prescott (2020 and 2021), based mostly on ESPN Stats & knowledge. Prescott finally signed an prolonged-time period extension with the Cowboys whereas Cousins hit free agency and signed a landmark deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
historic previous suggests Baltimore has time to maintain away from inserting the tag on Jackson. A decade in the past, quarterback Joe Flacco declined the Ravens’ current on a contract extension coming into his fifth yr, equal to Jackson. After Flacco led the Ravens to an glorious Bowl win, the crew signed him to a report-setting deal 25 days later (and three days earlier than the tag deadline).
If the Ravens are unable to understand an settlement with Jackson by March, they know they’ve contractual administration over Jackson for the following two seasons with the tag.
How a lot of a risk is Jackson taking?
Jackson acknowledged that it was “a reasonably massive risk” final season, as properly, and that something can happen. “God forbid the improper factor occurs,” he mentioned.
however in 2020, Prescott suffered a large ankle harm whereas taking half in beneath the franchise tag and missed the final eleven video games of the season. And the Cowboys nonetheless gave him a 4-yr, $a hundred and sixty million contract the following offseason.
the largest concern is Jackson’s style of play, which incorporates breaking prolonged runs and eluding go-rushers. Robert Griffin III, who additionally was a twin-risk quarterback, was by no means the identical after he injured his proper knee on the tip of his rookie season in 2012.
Jackson has been sturdy all through his first 4 seasons, regardless of taking an NFL-extreme 737 hits. the one time Jackson missed any video games attributable to harm was on the tip of final season, when he was sidelined the final 4 video games with a bruised proper ankle after dropping again and throwing a go.
The monetary gamble is that this: 5 quarterbacks have signed for a minimal of $a hundred and fifty million in assured money since Jackson was eligible for an extension. Jackson is assured $23.016 million this season beneath his fifth-yr selection.
however ready has been a worthwhile method to this point for Jackson. Since he grew to become eligible for an extension final yr, 5 quarterbacks have signed provides which have exceeded $a hundred and fifty million in assured money, and the most interesting common per yr for quarterbacks has jumped from $forty five million (Patrick Mahomes) to $50.three million (Aaron Rodgers).
How a lot of a risk are the Ravens taking?
the one gamble by not signing Jackson earlier than the season is the prime quarterback worth escalating method extra.
based mostly on a Jackson tweet, the Ravens have not supplied him $250 million assured. Deshaun Watson, who was dealing with 22 lawsuits on the time that alleged sexual assault and inappropriate conduct all through therapeutic massage classes, obtained $230 million assured from the Cleveland Browns in March.
The final two franchise quarterbacks to signal contract extensions since Watson — Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson — each landed significantly much less assured money, which gives to Baltimore’s perceived argument that Watson’s deal is an outlier. Murray obtained $189.5 million assured, and Wilson acquired $one hundred sixty five million.
By not reaching an prolonged-time period deal with Jackson now, the Ravens are basically betting that Joe Burrow and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert will not reset the quarterback market. each 2020 first-spherical picks are eligible for extensions after this season.
The Bengals and Chargers are recognized for being traditionally conservative spenders. nonetheless the Bengals have signed their final two franchise quarterbacks to extensions (Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton), and the Chargers ranked fifth in money spending this yr. It wouldn’t be lovely if Burrow and/or Herbert signed prolonged-time period provides by this time subsequent yr. the large question is whether or not or not both will surpass Watson in assured money.
What are the prospects of the Ravens buying and promoting Jackson subsequent offseason?
The Ravens would solely think about dealing Jackson in the event that they felt there was zero likelihood of finalizing an prolonged-time period deal. it is troublesome to imagine Baltimore would let Jackson go the Cousins route — taking half in two seasons beneath the tag earlier than letting him hit free agency in 2025 — and be content material with getting a third-spherical compensatory choose in return.
This offseason, the Broncos traded two first-spherical picks and two second-rounders to the Seahawks to amass 33-yr-outdated Russell Wilson. think about what the Ravens may get for Jackson, who does not flip 26 till Jan. 7.
The Ravens have one in every of many NFL’s prime backups in Tyler Huntley, who virtually led Baltimore to upsets over the eventual large Bowl champion l. a. Rams and the inexperienced Bay Packers final season. Huntley, 24, is a restricted free agent subsequent offseason, so the Ravens should choose on him, as properly.
however buying and promoting Jackson could be an unprecedented transfer. There have been 9 trades involving NFL MVP quarterbacks — from Roman Gabriel in 1969 to Matt Ryan this yr — and by no means one in every of the QBs had been dealt after they had been beneath the age of 30.
all through the negotiations, Ravens officers and Jackson have expressed a notion a deal will get executed.
however Friday’s information signifies that optimism is on maintain for now.