After 25 months of negotiations, the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson came to an agreement — that they don’t agree on his worth.
In an effort to protect themselves from losing Jackson, who’s would’ve become a free agent on Tuesday at 4 p.m., Baltimore applied the nonexclusive tag to Jackson. Meaning the dynamic former Heisman Trophy winner can engage in contract talks with other teams and if a team signs him to an offer sheet the Ravens have the right to match it or receive the two first-round picks as compensation.
This day has been looming for a while now, and as of Tuesday the only thing that was still unclear was which tag would the Ravens use on Jackson. They chose the non-exclusive, which is $32 million, versus the exclusive, which is $45 million.
That way if a team doesn’t swoop in take the 2019 unanimous MVP, and they don’t come to terms, Jackson will make $32 million next season if he chooses to play. But that’s awhile from now, as the tag allows the Ravens more time to also try to come to an agreement with Jackson, which doesn’t seem likely if they couldn’t come to one in a little over two years.
ESPN has reported on numerous occasions that Jackson was seeking a fully guaranteed in the neighborhood of the one Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson signed upon his trade from the Houston Texans. That is $230 million over five years, for an average salary of $46 million per season.
Is Lamar Jackson Gone For Good?
Although GM Eric DeCosta and Ravens brass say they’re holding out hope that a long-term deal can get done, tagging Jackson is the writing on the wall for a parting of ways. The relationship between team and player may have run its course. In a statement released after the announcement, DeCosta sounded like someone who knows this is over.
“There have been many instances across the league and in Baltimore when a player has been designated with the franchise tag and signed a long-term deal that same year. We will continue to negotiate in good faith with Lamar, and we are hopeful that we can strike a long-term deal that is fair to both Lamar and the Ravens,” DeCosta said in a statement. “Our ultimate goal is to build a championship team with Lamar Jackson leading the way for years to come.”
Ravens have until July 17 to get a deal done or they will have to wait until the end of the 2023 season.
Can You Say Collusion?
Following the huge announcement, it was shocking to see the number of QB-needy teams that let it be known that they have no intention of pursuing the talented signal-caller.
Among the Miami Dolphins, Washington Commanders, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Las Vegas Raiders, there’s just one serviceable quarterback in the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa. But his health concerns are a real sticking point. All five teams could desperately use a dynamic quarterback such as Jackson.
With all of the money getting thrown around to quarterbacks of a much lesser ilk than Jackson, many people around the league, including former NFL star JJ Watt, found it odd that teams aren’t jumping at the opportunity to sign the most dynamic player at the QB position.
That leaves few options for LJ8 around the league. Maybe the Jets? But they’re currently all in on trying to convince four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers to join them via trade. Possibly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady’s former team, but it would take some serious cap fixing. No matter how much the Miami Dolphins say they’re not interested, the health of Tua is still a concern, and with Jackson being from South Florida, his arrival could also keep wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle happy.
Sounds like everybody wants his fully-guaranteed price to go down a notch before they can commit. No matter what happens, this is going to be wild and fun, and to be honest there’s no reason the Ravens and their franchise player should be here. But they are, and now things get even more dicey.